RUSSIA AND DAMASCUS AGAINST “TERRORIST DEMOCRACY” IN GREATER IDLIB

07.04.2021 

South Front

In Syria’s Greater Idlib, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham continues its attempts at rebranding, all the while keeping up its usual militant activity.

As per the Russian Reconciliation Center, militants in Greater Idlib shelled the surrounding areas 32 times on April 6th.

Another al-Qaeda affiliated militant group in Greater Idlib, Ansar al-Islam, posted photographs of its activities in Idlib province. The footage showed the work of terrorist snipers targeting the Syrian Arab Army. This is more than likely a tool to show that the Damascus government cannot impede their activities, and serves as a recruitment method.

The Russian Aerospace Forces continue responding to all violations by striking militant positions. On April 6th, an air raid was carried out near the settlement of Basankul in Idlib.

In spite of the Damascus Government and Russia’s attempt to deter the militants, the United Nations sent 88 trucks of humanitarian aid to Syria’s Idlib. The aid is supposed to be distributed among the needy people in Idlib and its surrounding areas. It is more likely that it is being used by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and other militant groups to consolidate their grip on the region.

In addition to countering the activities of the Greater Idlib factions, the Syrian Arab Army, with its Russian support is containing ISIS in the central region.

In the 72 hours leading into April 6th, the Russian Aerospace Forces killed at least 29 ISIS terrorists in their strikes. A large number were heavily wounded. These attacks were centered on the Hama province, and stretched all the way to the border of the Deir Ezzor province.

Still, limited ISIS operations continue. On April 6th, one civilian was killed, several were injured and a large number of citizens were abducted in the town of al-Sa’an in the eastern countryside of the Al-Salamiyah region in Hama.

The terrorists ambushed government forces who were protecting the civilians. In total 19 were abducted, out of them 11 were civilians.

ISIS minefields also remain, and need to be cleared sometime in the future. On April 5th, a civilian was killed and another injured in a blast, at the Bowera site on the Jabal Abu Rajmein road, north of Palmyra.

The United States profits from chaos, wasting no time in smuggling resources away from the local population.

On April 5th, according to Syrian media, US forces smuggled out a convoy of trucks loaded with wheat stolen from the silos of Tal Alou in Yarubiyah in the northeastern countryside of Hasaka.

Additionally, on the very next day, Washington’s troops smuggled out a further convoy of 34 tanks and trucks carrying stolen quantities of oil and wheat also from the Syrian al-Jazeera region into northern Iraq.

Every party involved in Syria is fighting tooth and nail for their own interests  and any small opportunity is being exploited, as is clear to see.

RUSSIAN SU-24 BOMBERS DESTROYED HTS CAMP, VEHICLES IN GREATER IDLIB

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Speech by Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban Political and Media Advisor Syrian Presidency At the Shiller Institute Online Conference “World at a Crossroad: Two Months in the New US Administration” March 20-21, 2021

Her Excellency Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban: Reconstruction with Syrian characteristics — rebuilding a truly diverse and more secure world based on the lessons of the Syrian experience

Transcript

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban speech - Schiller Institute June 25th 2016 - YouTube
Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban is a political and media advisor to President AssadYOUTUBE/SCHILLER INSTITUTE

Good morning.

Allow me first to thank the Schiller Institute, and in particular, to thank Helga Zepp-LaRouche, for inviting me to this very important conference and for allowing me to contribute to this very important panel.

But before I begin my paper, I would like to pass on a few notes that lead me to the conclusion which I would love to conclude for this panel, and for this conference at large.

One of the major problems we face in our country, is that today, Western countries approach our countries with the feeling of exceptionalism or a feeling of righteousness, that whatever Western countries see appropriate or good, should apply to our countries without any question. The first action that was taken by Western countries, when the war on Syria started, was to withdraw their ambassadors from Syria. The question is, isn’t it the job of the ambassadors to convey the reality on the ground, and to help in opening channels of communication between countries instead of closing them?

This leads me to the role of corporate media during the war on Syria. Unfortunately, most Western media rely on Al Jazeera, Qatar-funded, and Al Arabiya, Saudi-funded, to report on events in Syria, even though both channels, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, withdrew their correspondents and relied on what are called “eyewitnesses,” which could be anybody, anywhere. This applies also to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is run by one person in Coventry, U.K., Rami Abdel Rahman.

These media outlets choose to focus on what they find which fits their agenda, ignoring the reality on the ground. For example, even the terrorist acts in Tartus and Jableh recently, which claimed the lives of 200 innocent civilians, were not noticed by Western media, and certainly did not therefore evoke any Western sympathy.

What I would like to say is that the false narrative propagated about Syria was as dangerous to the Syrian people and to the safety and security of Syrians, as the acts perpetrated by terrorists, because it isolated the reality in Syria from the public understanding in the West and in the world at large, and it prevented the creation of a level of understanding between Western countries and the Syrian people about what is going on.

Terrorism and ‘Democracy’

But before we can begin to talk about reconstructing Syria, we still face the monumental challenge of eradicating terrorism in Syria, Iraq, and the region. We have to eradicate this terrorism. And when I say “we,” I do not mean the Syrians or the Iraqis alone, but I mean the world at large, because, as we have seen, in Paris, Brussels, Orlando, and lastly, the U.K., terrorists can strike anywhere in the world; it’s a cancer that can spread anywhere in the world. However, is the world, and in particular, are Western powers, doing all they can to face this danger? This is the question that I would like to ask.

Of course if we separate out what is promoted in the media and look at actions and deeds, rather than words, we see that in the case of Syria, Western countries are not doing what needs to be done to eliminate this danger, both from Syria and from the world at large. And I would like to give you one example: On December 17, 2015, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2253, under Chapter 7, which dictates stopping the financing, arming, and facilitating of terrorists into Syria. The Vienna Group, afterwards, interpreted this resolution, that it should include closing the Turkish border and not allowing armaments and finances to cross to the terrorists. On December 18, the Security Council issued Resolution 2254, which calls for a political solution in Syria.

Now, you see that the entirety of humanity focusses on 2254, without dealing with 2253, which is a logical prerequisite for 2254, that is, for finding a political solution in Syria.

The same thing can be said about humanitarian assistance. Instead of focussing on ending the war in Syria and restoring peace and security in Syria, we see that the entire corporate media is speaking about humanitarian assistance, as if this is the issue! Syria, before this war, was able to host 2 million Iraqis and to feed itself, and to export food to 84 countries in the world. It is since the 1970s that the Syrian people have adopted the motto, “We eat from what we produce, and we wear from what we manufacture,” which means that Syria does not need humanitarian help if there is peace and stability, and if the Syrian people are able to develop their crops and attend to their factories.

Today we hear a lot of talk from the Western alliance about “containing” ISIS, “limiting” ISIS; and lastly, you all heard the speech of CIA Director John Brennan, who said that we did not succeed even in limiting the influence of ISIS. Why? Because there is no real desire and wish, really, to get rid of ISIS. There were two elements: The Russian government had called on Western countries to join efforts to defeat ISIS both in Syria and Iraq, and the agreement in Vienna was that the Turkish borders should be closed. Neither of these two elements received a positive response from the United States or the Western powers. The question is, why?—if there is a real will to fight ISIS.

The other question is, that we in Syria feel that what is needed is a real will in the international community to fight terrorism and to build real bridges. When I say “real bridges,” I mean, on an equal basis, on a basis of parity. The problem with promoting “democracy”—in quotation marks—in our part of the world, is that Western countries believe that liberal democracy is the only issue, or the only copy, or the only formula that should be applied to our countries. And this is not true, because we all have different cultures.

We have different identities, we have different habits, we have different ways of life, and I can give an example: China, India, the Persian culture, Arab culture have contributed a great deal to the world, but on a human basis, and on a basis of parity. In fact, here I would like to make an important point, that the Western world believes in opening markets to the entire world, but only to export its own goods! But not to allow other countries to export to the West, on an equal basis. And every day they invent different formulas in order not to allow equal treatment—tariff constraints and other constraints.

Intellectual Silk Road

The same thing applies to politics. The concepts, values, and ideas, coming from the West should be respected and implemented in our countries, but there is no other road that takes our culture, and our values and our ethics to the West. If we need to create a world for all, if we need to create a peaceful world, if we need to create a prosperous world for all, we need to create a conceptual, intellectual concept of one world; we need to create a conceptual concept of a Silk Road. Not only an actual Silk Road, but an intellectual Silk Road. All of you know that Aleppo and Syria were extremely crucial in the ancient Silk Road that connected Asia to Europe. Syria and the Syrian people will be more than happy to be very active also in a New Silk Road and in a political, social, intellectual Silk Road that connects Asia to the West, that connects Eurasia to the West.

The other byproduct of this war on our countries, and the other byproduct of promoting only Western exceptionalism in our country, is the distortion of the image of Islam in Western eyes. Islam, like any other religion, is a religion of love, a religion of humanity. We, as Muslims, were hardly ever, if ever, addressed in our Quran as Muslims. We are addressed as “ye human beings”: We are part of the human community. And therefore, those who kill in the name of Islam, those who destroy in the name of Islam, are not Muslims at all. They have nothing to do with Islam.

We have to address the concept that the terrorists are promoting, and the lack of dialogue that the corporate media are causing, if we want to create a truly prosperous Silk Road, not only physical, but also intellectual, social, and political. And here, I would like to conclude by thanking Russia and China, who right from the beginning of the war on Syria, took four vetoes against Western attempts to try to strike Syria militarily. And Russia, and China, and Iran, continue to support the Syrian people, to try to find a political solution.

In brief, what I would like to say here is that, in order to build these Silk Roads, we have to deal with each other on an equal basis, on an equal human basis, and dealing otherwise, as superior and inferior, as white and black, as important and less important, is producing extremism, is producing racism which is striking not only in Syria, but in Brussels, in Paris, in Orlando, and last of all in the U.K. Thus, it is in the interests of humanity to think as human beings, to think of the world as truly a human village, where people live equally, and have mutual respect for each other, and deal on the basis of parity.

But this requires a huge change in the mindset of the West, that probably requires another conference, to speak not only about the very important idea launched by China, of building a Silk Road, but to speak about the intellectual, social, and political Silk Road, that thinks and deals with all of us, as human, as brothers and sisters, rather than as superior and inferior. Thus, we can build a new world, and one world, and a much better world than the one we live in. We have an obligation to our grandchildren, wherever they are born, to leave them a better world than this one in which we live now.

Thank you very much.

THE SYRIAN ARAB ARMY IN THE WORLD’S MOST VOLATILE GAME OF WHACK-A-MOLE

South Front

You can read this article in German. LINK

It is as if the Syrian Arab Army were involved in a giant game of whack-a-mole.  Each time it carries out a successful operation on one of its numerous battlefields, it gets punished elsewhere.

On March 16th, a convoy of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) elite 4th Division was ambushed in the countryside of Daraa. Despite heavy fire from the SAA, the gunmen were able to escape after killing 22 service members and injuring at least five others.

The situation in Daraa is quite complicated. In February, the SAA was preparing to launch a large-scale operation to arrest a group of wanted militants in western Daraa.  However former rebel leaders expelled the group from the area and accepted a new reconciliation agreement. The operation was thus avoided, but there has been no cessation of hostilities.

The time may have come for another operation in Daraa, keeping in mind the recent progress in actions in the northeast against Turkish proxies, who had been smuggling oil.

Sure enough, Russian Military Police also completed their deployment to the vicinity of the ancient city of Busra in the southern Syrian governorate. Wherever a Syrian operation is about to happen, Russian support is always nearby.

Meanwhile, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) resumed oil and wheat shipments to areas held by the Damascus government. This is an expected result of continuous pressure from Damascus and its Russian support. The Russians even regained control of an oil field and a gas field in nearby Raqqah.

This, of course, comes in addition to the heavy punishment meted out by the SAA to the Turkish proxies in the northeast, who have been exploiting the situation and trafficking resources for Ankara.

More than likely the SDF took the decision to resume shipments 35 days after halting them after considering the developments of the last several days and weeks.

In central Syria, a testament to the progress made in pushing back ISIS is likely the 140 km long trench being dug by the Iraqi Armed Forces. Being pounded by both the SAA and the Russian Armed Forces, ISIS cells are attempting to move into Iraq and carry out their activities there. The Iraqi Army is attempting to pincer them and to both stop their movement in that direction and entrap the terrorists.

The SAA is making progress on many fronts throughout Syria, and large-scale operations are expected in the northeast. Time will tell which issue is more pressing – the Turkish proxies in the northeast, the terrorists in the central region, the “moderate opposition” in Greater Idlib or the insurgency in Daraa.

Has Damascus’ Time To Recapture Northern Syria Finally Arrived?

South Front

You can read this article in German. LINK

Chaos is brewing in the Aleppo countryside, as the Syrian Arab Army reportedly prepares for a decisive push on the Turkish-occupied areas.

All eyes are set on the town of Al-Bab and the surrounding area.

On March 7th, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) shelled the outskirts of the Turkish-occupied town of al-Bab. According to sources from the “moderate opposition”, at least ten mortar rounds fired by the SAA landed in the towns of Bratah and al-Dana near al-Bab.

There was one reported casualty, and one injury. The previous day saw shelling from the SAA on the same location, without any casualties and damage being reported.

These developments followed the incident on March 5 when, the Syrian military used ballistic missiles and rockets to pound Turkish-affiliated smugglers in the areas of al-Himran and Tarhin. According to reports, over 40 criminals were injured and more than 200 oil trucks and storage facilities were destroyed.

More than three years ago, the Turkish Armed Forces wrestled the city of al-Bab away from ISIS. Since then, the SAA has been waiting for an opportunity to liberate it from the successive occupations.

Nearby, in the northeastern part of Aleppo city itself, there appears to be a Turkish-funded insurgency rising.

On March 4th, saboteurs burned a minivan of the al-Quds Brigade in the district of Hannano. The al-Quds Brigade, made mostly of Palestinians, is one of the largest pro-government factions in Aleppo. The group Youth of Aleppo al-Shahba Regiment for Special Missions claimed responsibility for the attack. Their allegiance is formally unknown, but it is obvious.

It comes down to speculation, but pro-Turkish groups could have carried out the sabotage, in order to spread chaos and impede the SAA’s attack on the Turkish-occupied cities in the countryside.

Nearby, in Greater Idlib, the soon-to-be-rebranded Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) terrorists are attempting to merge with the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL).

This proposed military council is clearly meant to provide a legitimate cover for the rebranded terrorist activities of HTS and other al-Qaeda factions in Greater Idlib.

Sure enough, on March 6th, an infamous propagandist of HTS, Tahir al-Omar, confirmed that work was ongoing to establish a “Defense Ministry” in Greater Idlib. HTS, in the past, has attacked the NFL occasionally, despite the fact they’ve been allied. For the purposes of the “moderate opposition” and the rebranding of terrorists, those issues have been left in the past.

Greater Idlib is still the greatest source of the terrorist threat, and no amount of rebranding of terrorists can change that.

A sense of urgency should be growing with in HTS and the Turkish-proxies in Greater Idlib, as their turn is likely coming shortly after any operation to recapture the Turkish-occupied towns in the Aleppo countryside.

Russia Showcases Operations Of Its Combat Drones In Syria. Time To Push Idlib?

South Front

Russia released a video showing its Orion combat drone carrying out strikes on targets in Syria. This marked the very first time such footage was being released. It shows the drone’s operation, lock-on and launching of a payload on a militant target. The Orion is a long-flight duration attack-reconnaissance UAV, that can also carry out airstrikes. According to the report, this type of UAV has carried out 38 sorties, including 17 strike missions.

Meanwhile, a new electronic surveillance system has been spotted at the Russian-operated Hmeimim Air Base. The Avtobaza-M can determine the parameters of signals and types of radars, track air and seaborne objects by their electronic signature and support higher air defense command and control posts with data.

Despite the ISIS threat in central Syria, the focus of the key players is evidently shifting towards Idlib. The US and its ally-to-be Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) will begin active movements soon.

Russia reported that HTS is preparing to stage a chemical attack, similar to those that led to US missile strikes back in 2018 and earlier. More than once, the US-led coalition carried out strikes on Syrian government forces, in punishment of alleged chemical weapons usage.

This sense of urgency is also felt in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The government forces are opening a civilian corridor to evacuate civilians from Greater Idlib.

This is likely because an offensive is on the way, the SAA is preparing, likely together with Russia and some Iranian support to push on the biggest militant stronghold left in Syria. To prime the location, the SAA carried out heavy shelling, killing or injuring at least 5 militants in the process.

This is likely an ideal moment to push for Idlib, because Turkey is focused in Northeastern Syria, and so is the US. The SAA has deployed large amounts of forces in that region, which is out of the way.

It also moved its short-range defense systems to Iraq, which makes it an even more opportune moment for the SAA and Russia to push to push in another direction, and namely Idlib. The following days will show whether this evacuation of civilians is, indeed, a preparation for an offensive.

The ceasefire regime and the demilitarized zone are largely non-functional, despite Russia’s efforts to implement them. Turkey, the other co-signatory, is focused on fighting the Kurdish in the north. Even without that distraction, it seldom paid any attention to adhering to the rules set out in the deal.

The Syrian Arab Army, and its allies, likely need to push before HTS are completely rebranded as “moderate opposition” and their ties to al-Qaeda are forgotten. Additionally, this needs to be happen before ISIS pushes further out from central Syria.

Leaked files show how UK govt spent millions exploiting Syrian women in cynical PR offensive

RT

18 Dec, 2020 15:17 

Leaked files show how UK govt spent millions exploiting Syrian women in cynical PR offensive
FILE PHOTO: Women stand as they wait their turn to cast the votes inside a polling station during the parliamentary elections in Douma, in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, Syria July 19, 2020 ©  REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

By Kit Klarenberg, an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow Kit on Twitter @KitKlarenberg

A swath of leaked documents reveals the lengths to which the British government went to paint the Syrian opposition in a flattering light. They also confirm that women unknowingly formed part of this effort.

The leaked UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) documents reveal a variety of covert ways in which London sought to not only propagandize women in Syria, but to exploit them as weapons in a vast information warfare campaign waged at home and abroad.

The papers are among bombshell files released by hacktivist collective Anonymous, which expose a number of cloak-and-dagger actions undertaken by Whitehall against Damascus. Women figured prominently in a number of the plans, which cost the FCO millions of pounds over many years.

‘Outreach initiatives’

The propaganda value of women in conflicts has long-been well understood and cynically exploited by governments.

A leaked US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) memorandum from March 2010 on covert means of increasing flagging support for NATO’s Afghanistan mission noted women in the country “could serve as ideal messengers” in “humanizing” the military occupation, due to their “ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory.”

“Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women…could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the mission,” the document noted. “Media events that feature testimonials by Afghan women would probably be most effective if broadcast on programs that have large and disproportionately female audiences.”

Over a decade later, Afghanistan remains one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman, by some margin.

Roughly a year after that CIA memo was authored, A Gay Girl in Damascus, a blog purportedly written by Syrian-American lesbian Amina Arraf, garnered significant mainstream attention. Widely hailed for her “fearless” and “inspiring” eyewitness reporting, the author was lauded as a symbol of the “progressive” revolution erupting in the country.

In June  2011, Amina’s cousin announced on the blog she (Amina) had been kidnapped by three armed men in the Syrian capital. In response, numerous Facebook pages were set up calling for Amina’s release and ‘liked’ by tens of thousands, #FreeAmina trended widely on Twitter, journalists and rights groups begged Western governments to demand her release, and the US State Department announced it was investigating her disappearance.

Six days later, it was revealed ‘Amina’ was in fact Tom MacMaster, a US citizen residing in Scotland. While corporate news outlets hurriedly rushed to forget all about the hoax they’d so comprehensively fallen for, their appetite for dubious ‘human interest’ stories emanating from the crisis evidently wasn’t diminished.

‘Huge global coverage’

In July 2019, an image of two young Syrian girls trapped in rubble in opposition-occupied Idlib attempting to haul their sister to safety as she dangled off the precipice of a dilapidated building, their father looking on in horror above, spread far and wide on social media.

The photo, snapped by a photographer for Syrian news service SY24, went viral the world over. Unbeknownst to the overwhelming majority of observers, though, SY24 was created and funded by The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), founded by Richard Barrett, a former MI6 counter-terrorism director.

In a file submitted to the FCO, TGSN boasted of how “campaigns” it broadcast via SY24 generated “huge global coverage,” having been seen by “many hundreds of millions of people,” and “attracting comment as far as the UN Security Council.”

SY24 content was produced by a network of ‘stringers’ in Syria that TGSN trained and provided with equipment, including “cameras and video editing software.” The firm drew particular attention to a team of female journalists it had tutored, “who provide about 40 percent of all SY content,” and were part of “a broad ‘network of networks’” enabling TGSN “to drive stories into the mainstream.”

TGSN also established a dedicated centre for training female journalists to produce content for SY24 in Idlib, “accessing stories that male journalists cannot,” which were then shared on social media. It boasted that almost half of SY24’s followers were women, “a remarkably high ratio for Syria-focused platforms.

‘Communications surges’

Carefully cultivating an entirely misleading image of an inclusive, credible ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition was of paramount importance to the FCO – it helped whitewash the barbarous nature of the various ‘rebel’ factions London was backing in the region, while simultaneously engendering support among Western publics for regime change.

In order to engage the “international community” to this end, TGSN, in conjunction with ARK – a shadowy “conflict transformation and stabilization consultancy” headed by veteran FCO operative Alistair Harris – planned“communication surges” around “key dates” such as International Women’s Day.

In a particularly elaborate example of such a “surge,” the pair collaborated on a campaign, ‘Back to School,’ in which young Syrians returned to education while Idlib City Council, opposition commanders, and other elements on the ground concurrently engaged in a “unified” communications blitz, using “shared slogans, hashtags and branding.”

Rebel fighters were sent to “clear roads” and “enable children and teachers to get to schools,” all the while filmed by the pair’s voluminous local journalist network, footage of which was then “disseminated online and on broadcast channels.” Ensuring “female teachers” received sizable coverage in the Western media was a key objective of the campaign.

In many of the leaked files, ARK boasts of the huge network of journalists it trained and funded in Syria, who would cover such PR stunts; their reports in turn fed to the firm’s “well-established contacts” at major news outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, New York Times, and Reuters, “further amplifying their effect.”

‘Thrust by tragedy’

However, other documents make clear ARK well-understood the immense difficulties inherent in promoting the role of women internally and externally during the crisis.

One file on “[incorporating] the role of women in the moderate opposition” notes Syrian women in rebel-occupied areas faced “an almost overwhelming variety of problems,” and “the space for women to participate in public life has contracted significantly as the conflict has progressed.”

As a result, ARK said it was “extremely aware of the risks of promoting women’s participation beyond currently accepted social norms…given the potential to hinder message resonance or result in a backlash against female participation.” It therefore proposed to “subtly reframe the narrative of women…increasing the amount of coverage of their initiatives and opinions as the context allows.”

One such means of “subtle reframing” was Moubader (which translates to “a person who takes initiative”), a media asset comprising a “high-quality hard copy monthly magazine with widespread distribution across opposition-held areas of Syria,” with a website and Facebook page boasting over 200,000 likes as of December 2020.

Moubader was established by ARK in 2015 specifically to achieve “behavioural change” in readers, at Whitehall’s request. “Given the importance of broadcast television as a trusted source” in Syria, ARK also sought FCO funding to develop a Moubader TV programme to “leverage stories and values to maximum effect and reach an even wider audience.”

Documents submitted to the FCO by another psyops contractor, Albany, similarly noted women’s access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity had “been debilitated” during the crisis, with issues such as early marriage, child military recruitment, and “transactional sex” exacerbated. The UN defines the latter as “non-commercial sexual relationships motivated by an implicit assumption that sex will be exchanged for material support or other benefits.”

Still, Albany considered so many Syrian women having been “thrust by tragedy into head of household and breadwinner positions” over the course of the crisis as a golden opportunity to propagandize them and, in turn, their families, while promoting the ‘inclusive’ nature of the opposition, by creating and partnering with female civil society organizations and journalists.

ARK likewise believed women to be a “critical audience” given the number of Syrian households headed by women –“up to 70 percent”– so sought to ensure they were well-represented in all its domestic and international “broadcast products,” as well as on social media.

‘Jihadis You Pay For’

Unsurprisingly, the files make no acknowledgement of the fact this increasingly hostile environment for women in Syria directly resulted from foreign efforts to destabilise and depose its government.

Islamic State, (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and al-Nusra are rightly notorious for their monstrous treatment of women in the areas which they occupied, which included widespread rape, sexual violence and abduction.

However, many armed opposition groups, backed by foreign powers, whether openly Salafist or not, imposed stringent restrictions on women in the areas they occupied, requiring them to wear hijabs and abayas, doling out extreme punishments for failing to comply, imposing discriminatory measures prohibiting them from moving freely, working, attending school, and more.

There are indications FCO contractors were in close quarters with such activities. For instance, in December 2017 BBC Panorama documentary Jihadis You Pay For alleged FCO cash distributed on its behalf by Adam Smith International (ASI) in Syria ended up in the pockets of Free Syrian Police (FSP) officers who’d stood by passively while women were stoned to death.

The program focused on the Access to Justice and Community Security (AJACS) program, under which ASI funded and trained FSP, an unarmed civilian force set up to reestablish law and order in opposition-controlled areas.

In a perverse irony, leaked ASI files relating to the project indicate it, too, sought to exploit women for propaganda purposes, applying a gender policy to AJACS “which [aimed] to encourage female participation in justice and policing,” and boasting of how, of the 1,868 police officers it trained under the scheme, six – 0.32 percent ­­– were female.

Quite some revolution. As Human Rights Watch notes, prior to 2011, women and girls across the country were “largely able to participate in public life, including work and school, and exercise freedom of movement, religion, and conscience.” While the Syrian penal code and laws governing issues such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance, contains provisions discriminatory to women, the country’s constitution guarantees gender equality.

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ALSO ON RT.COM

US Army Carried out ‘Military Drill’ with ISIS Affiliate in the Syrian Al Tanf

  ARABI SOURI

US army military drill with ISIS affiliate in Al Tanf southeast of Syria

A terrorist group affiliated with ISIS carried out a joint ‘military drill’ with Trump forces in the Syrian desert area of al Tanf, the ISIS affiliate group bragged on their social media accounts.

In the ‘military drill’, US fighter jets bombed targets in the desert followed by moves of the ISIS-styled 4 x 4 machine-guns mounted SUVs shooting at the same targets.

‘Maghawir Thawra’ is an armed terrorist group affiliated with the ISIS terrorist organization, supposed to be on the US list of terrorist organizations, but instead is a beneficiary of US military aid, part of the US ‘exceptionalism’ and ‘pragmatism’ in its illegal operations worldwide.

The video is also available on YouTube and BitChute.

The spokesman for the US-led International Coalition to aid the ‘Islamist State’ ISIS, Colonel Wayne Maruto, wrote on his Twitter account on November 30 commenting on the exercises: “We will continue to work with our ‘partners’ to protect our gains against ISIS and deter any future aggression. We remain committed to the enduring #DefeatDaesh in designated areas of Iraq and Syria.”

US army officer tweet about military drill with ISIS in southeast of Syria

We’re not sure whether the officer in Trump forces knows from his seat hundreds of miles away that his ‘partners’ are in fact ISIS and he’s part of the Pentagon’s propaganda team, or he’s fooled by the CIA agents in charge of the ISIS division; we do know that top US officials like John Kerry admitted they work in ‘partnership’ with ISIS to pressure the Syrian leadership into concessions.

Trump forces are based illegally in the depth of the Syrian desert on the cross borders between Syria, Iraq, and Jordan in the Al Tanf area, they’re tasked to prevent the escape of thousands of Syrian refugees held in the infamous Rukban concentration camp in miserable conditions, also to offer logistic support to Israeli bombing against Syrian targets from the air corridor they provide, in addition to their role making sure their ‘partners’ of ISIS and its affiliates can move freely and attack Syrian remote villages, commit massacres against the Syrian farmers in their homes, and carry out terrorist attacks then retreat safely to the 55 square kilometers area protected by the US army.

Rukban Concentration Camp:

ِAmerican forces occupying Syrian territory entered the country illegally and their presence impedes efforts to restore peaceful life to the country and constitutes an obstacle to stability in southeastern Syria and causing the catastrophic conditions of the residents of al-Rukban camp who are being forcibly detained by terrorist groups controlled by the United States. A statement by the Syrian and Russian coordinating bodies on the return of the displaced Syrians.

Following video report by Syrian Sama TV:

The statement issued by the two bodies indicated that the information of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent doctors who examined people who came out of the camp shows that they have chronic diseases, some of them suffering from tuberculosis and skin diseases, while many are underweight due to hunger and in children lack of vitamins and intestinal infections and viral infection.

The statement pointed out that Syria and Russia are taking unprecedented measures to save the inhabitants of Al-Rukban, which led to the departure of 13337 people since March 23, 2019 from the camp where tens of thousands of displaced people live in catastrophic conditions and many of them do not have money to pay to terrorists in the camp to allow them to leave the camp.

Tens of thousands of Syrians who fled their homes in towns and villages, mainly in Eastern Homs countryside, upon the expansion of the US-sponsored ISIS terrorists were pushed towards the southeast of the country instead of towards the capital Damascus to their southwest.

Magahaweer Al-Thawra, among other terrorist groups, led those civilians into a makeshift supposed to be refugee camp in Al-Tanf area near the borders of Jordan and Iraq deep in the open desert. It was a trap to hold them in a very remote area and under the cover of the US-led coalition of aggressor states defying international law and against everything humanity represents. Since then, the ISIS-affiliates Maghaweer Al-Thawra under the US protection kept the civilians in dire conditions under their mercy in what’s now described as Rukban Concentration Camp in order to pressure the Syrian state into concessions.

CHAOS AND ARMED CONFLICTS: U.S. STRATEGY TO DISMANTLE RUSSIA IS ALREADY WORKING

South Front

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

In 2020, there have been several notable developments, that all seem to have been happening along Russia’s borders and in key regions developments in which influencing the Russian position on the international scene.

These include:

  • Ukraine’s refusal to seek peace in its East with the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and various questionable policies.
  • Western-backed protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, with a ‘school teacher-turned-politician’ challenging him with an insignificant share of the vote in the presidential election. She received wide support from the West, especially from heavily US-aligned states such as Poland and the Baltics.
  • The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other groups in Syria are being supported openly, and not so openly, by the United States and sabotage the further diplomatic settlement of the conflict in Syria.
  • The situation in Central Asia is rather exacerbated, with an evident increase in ISIS activity in Afghanistan, alongside various terrorist elements appearing near its borders with Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) countries. The Russian Security Service – FSB – is hard at work in countering various ISIS and other terror cells on the territory of the Russian Federation, and reports such as these are frequent, meaning that there appears to be a network that is successful in either moving terrorist elements into the country, or recruiting them there.
  • There also was the Armenian-Azerbaijan War in Nagorno-Karabakh, which Russia didn’t directly involve itself in, since the fight was for the self-proclaimed independent republic of Artsakh, and Armenia never officially asked for assistance. Regardless, with the Peace Deal it brokered on November 10th, there have been numerous voices in Armenia blaming Russia for the defeat. And that is even though it essentially saved it from an even bigger fiasco and loss of territory. At the same time, despite being the victor, Azerbaijan simply received what it was promised with the Minsk agreements, with the addition of Shusha. There are protests against Russia in Azerbaijan, a country in which any non-government sanctioned protest is snuffed, violently. There are calls that Russia stole the “glorious victory”, while in Armenia there are calls to renew hostilities, while the Russian peacekeepers are there and somehow force their hand in the fight.
  • Turkey deployed thousands of Syrian militants to South Caucasus, and there are claims that it is even reportedly attempting to relocate families from Syria’s Afrin and other areas to the parts of Karabakh that were given to Azerbaijan. This is likely to also provide a fresh extremist presence in the region.
  • Turkey, once again, appeared to be shifting its gaze towards Crimea, but also cooperate with Ukraine in terms of selling UAVs to it and other military equipment.

All of these developments, somehow, almost entirely coincide with a report which the RAND Corporation released back in 2019.

The report is called “Extending Russia” with the subtitle “Competing from Advantageous Ground.” A short description of the report reads the following:

“The steps we posit would not have either defense or deterrence as their prime purpose, although they might contribute to both. Rather, these steps are conceived of as measures that would lead Russia to compete in domains or regions where the United States has a competitive advantage, causing Russia to overextend itself militarily or economically or causing the regime to lose domestic and/or international prestige and influence. This report deliberately covers a wide range of military, economic, and political policy options. Its recommendations are directly relevant to everything from military modernization and force posture to economic sanctions and diplomacy; consequently, it speaks to all the military services, other parts of U.S. government that have a hand in foreign policy, and the broader foreign and defense policy audience.”

Notably, the report suggests that the following “Geopolitical measures” need to be employed in order to counter Russia’s spreading influence and capabilities to provide an adequate answer to an extraordinary situation.

This chapter describes six possible U.S. moves in the current geopolitical competition:

  • providing lethal arms to Ukraine,
  • resuming support to the Syrian rebels,
  • promoting regime change in Belarus,
  • exploiting Armenian and Azeri tensions,
  • intensifying attention to Central Asia,
  • isolating Transnistria (a Russian-occupied enclave within Moldova).

There are several other possible geopolitical moves discussed in other RAND research but not directly evaluated here—including intensifying NATO’s relationship with Sweden and Finland, pressuring Russia’s position in the Arctic, and checking Russia’s attempts to secure its influence in Asia.

Ukraine

Between 2014 and 2016, the US provided $600 million in security assistance to Ukraine. These funds have been used to train Ukrainian military forces and provided nonlethal military equipment, including counterartillery and countermortar radars, secure communications, logistics systems, tactical unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, and medical equipment.

According to RAND, the US could increase its military assistance to Ukraine, or increase its calls to allow Kiev into NATO.

“Expanding U.S. assistance to Ukraine, including lethal military assistance, would likely increase the costs to Russia, in both blood and treasure, of holding the Donbass region. More Russian aid to the

separatists and an additional Russian troop presence would likely be required, leading to larger expenditures, equipment losses, and Russian casualties. The latter could become quite controversial at home, as it did when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.”

Eastern Ukraine is already a significant drain on Russian resources, exacerbated by the accompanying Western sanctions. Increasing U.S. military aid would certainly drive up the Russian costs, but doing so could also increase the loss of Ukrainian lives and territory or result in a disadvantageous peace settlement. This would generally be seen as a serious setback for U.S. policy.

What’s going on in reality? There appears to be no conclusive peace settlement in Ukraine, and anti-Russian policy continues moving forward full speed. The Kiev regime, at large controlled from Washington, is intentionally sabotaging attempts to de-escalate the situation and publicly preparing for a new military operation in eastern Ukraine. Recently, pro-Kiev sources started laying great hopes on the Turkish military aid. For sure, the US is also involved. In August 2020, incoming US President Joe Biden promised to provide Ukraine with even more lethal weapons. In late 2019, the Trump administration also approved several sales of “defensive lethal weapons” to Ukraine.

As such this part of RAND’s suggestion appears to be moving, more or less, according to plan.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Syria

“In 2015, Russia’s intervention in Syria cost an estimated $2.4 million to $4 million a day, according to the Moscow Times and IHS Janes’ estimates. 34 Given the size of Russia’s defense budget ($50 billion that year), the sum might not be significant in and of itself.”

Increased U.S. support to the so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition could perpetuate and intensify a civil war that had begun to wind down, thereby imposing attritional costs on both Russia and Iran.

RAND believes that such support should also reduce the “moderate opposition’s” reliance on the better-armed, more extremist groups and ultimately might improve the willingness and ability of moderate opposition forces to combat the “more extremist elements.” Now, first of all RAND doesn’t even deny that the most of “moderate opposition” is made up of extremists, who are fighting against even more extreme elements.

At the same time, the reality of the situation is this: the US, with all its claims of complete withdrawal from Syria, simply employed the SDF separatist leadership as a tool of sabotaging the peace settlement in Syria, while Washington is looting Syria’s oil fields. US companies exploit Syrian oil resources. Some of the money is used to bankroll the SDF.

The Russian side has repeatedly also claimed that ISIS and ISIS-affiliated fighters were being trained and received improved weaponry in the US-controlled areas of Syria.

Unlike Ukraine, the United States does not have a single actor to aid in the fight in Syria but rather faces a plethora of groups—often with murky affiliations—increasing the chances of weapons falling into the wrong hands.

“Supporting the rebels could run counter to the most prominent objective of the Trump administration’s Middle East foreign policy—fighting radical Islamist terrorism.”

In the highly unlikely event of total success—if Russia were to abandon the Assad government and the opposition were to somehow ‘defeat’ Damascus—the result would be a major geopolitical setback for Moscow but also a major contraction in its foreign commitments and associated expenditures, not to mention a huge responsibility for the United States and its allies to assume.

At the same time, it appears that supporting the “moderate rebels” isn’t proving effective enough and Israel is picking up the slack with targeting various Syrian and alleged Iranian positions in the areas under Damascus’ control.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Essentially, there were some attempts, but none of them are any significant, since the fight in Syria appears to be too far gone.

Likewise, according to RAND, this course of action might have been viable a few years ago, when the armed opposition was stronger and less radicalized. Under current circumstances, the most that expanded U.S. aid could likely do would be to perpetuate a conflict that has already destabilized an entire region. Russia might be forced to pay a bit more for its Syrian commitment but only at the cost of continued regional turbulence, societal radicalization, and increased civilian casualties and displaced personnel.

Belarus

Belarus is Russia’s neighbour and important ally. It provides a buffer between Russia and major NATO countries and is the initial link in Russia’s ground lines of communication between the mainland and Kaliningrad— the Russian enclave entirely encircled by Lithuania and Poland. Already host to Russian forces, Belarus features prominently in many notional conflicts among the United States, NATO, and Russia.

In a zero-sum world, denying Russia its one and only true ally would be a clear geopolitical and ideological gain for the West. It would bring an end to “Europe’s last dictatorship,” a long-standing U.S. policy goal.

“Starting revolutions is not easy, and the United States lending public support to opposition movements does not guarantee that they will be successful. In 2007, Gallup found that 60 percent of Belarusian respondents believed democracy was important and 47 percent believed it was “somewhat” or “very” important for Belarus to have an active opposition party.”

RAND considered regime change in Belarus as one of the most significant escalations, but the attempts have all but failed, and with Russia actually not having to lift a finger.

Even despite Lukashenko attempt to get some concessions from Russia prior to the protests in the country.

“Promoting regime change in Belarus is one of the most escalatory options considered in this report. Such an effort probably would not succeed and could provoke a strong Russian response, including the possibility of military action. Such a reaction might extend Russia by requiring the nation to commit resources to preserve its grasp over Belarus, thereby provoking the United States and its European allies to respond with harsher sanctions, but the result would be a general deterioration of the security environment in Europe and a setback for U.S. policy.”

Currently, protests in Belarus are still on-going, but they’ve barely achieved any real progress in the regime change agenda. However, the Western/NATO interference in the internal situation in Belarus is an undeniable fact.

Lukashenko may be making some interesting claims regarding Russia, or attempting to play tough in order to get a discount from Moscow on natural gas, or some other commodity, but at the same time is wise enough to continue actively communicating with Russian President Vladimir Putin and remain a formal ally.

Nagorno-Karabah: Armenia and Azerbaijan

The RAND analysis begins with reminding that in 2008, the Georgian-Russian relations with damaged severely, after a few days of war and the resulting South Ossetia and Abkhazia as separate countries.

Russia also plays a key role with Azerbaijan and Armenia, particularly over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ethnically Armenian but geographically located within Azerbaijan, Nagorno- Karabakh’s bid to join the Armenia Soviet Socialist Republic during the latter years of the Soviet Union was denied by the Soviet Politburo because of the risk of encouraging secessionist movements elsewhere.

According to RAND, the United States could extend Russia in the Caucasus in two ways. First, the United States could push for a closer NATO relationship with Georgia and Azerbaijan, likely leading Russia to strengthen its military presence in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Armenia, and southern Russia.

Alternatively, the United States could try to induce Armenia to break with Russia.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

“Increased U.S. involvement in the region could produce additional economic benefits as well. The Caspian Sea remains a key producer of both oil and natural gas. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that there are “48 billion barrels of oil and 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves in the Caspian basins. Almost 75 percent of oil reserves and 67 percent of natural gas reserves are located within 100 miles of the coast.”

According to the analysis, resolving Nagorno-Karabakh is likely a prerequisite to Armenia breaking with Russia, but it is unclear precisely how the United States or NATO could resolve the decades-old conflict without privileging one side and antagonizing the other. NATO has encouraged both parties to resolve the conflict through the Minsk Group—led by the Russians.

Currently, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the six-week war that started on September 27th, 2020 was due to several factors.

Notably, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, as an avid supporter of the West worked to the benefit of what RAND describes and distanced Armenia from Russia with questionable policy.

In turn, Turkey, in support of Azerbaijan saw a chance, prepared and began to largely pull the strings on Baku’s offensive on the region.

Still, Russia managed to somehow salvage the situation for Yerevan, by brokering a peace deal which saw Azerbaijan get what it was supposed to be given under the Minsk Agreements, with the addition of Shusha.

Pashinyan, however, continued blaming Russia, the Armenian population, foreign countries and such for the failure and the gross mismanagement of Armenia’s forces in the war.

Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev presents the war as “gloriously won” but there are some elements which are protesting and claiming that Moscow actually robbed Baku of its “glorious victory.”

There are anti-Russian protests, in a country in which all non-government approved protests are violently stopped.

The US made some claims for peace and so on, as did many Western countries, with France even attempting to somehow mediate the conflict, but only barely.

Paris attempted to prove itself as a valuable ally to Armenia, but in the end, it simply said “we are with you, our Armenian brothers” and all they provided were empty words.

In Armenia, in order for Pashinyan and the pro-Western leadership to remain, political arrests of the opposition began. As such, support for Russia still remains rather low, and it is playing to the measure that RAND outlined in April 2019. In the current conditions, pro-Western forces in the region would continue their efforts to destabilize the region creating chaos near the Russian border and setting conditions for the NATO expansion there.

Central Asia

Russia is part of two economic ventures related to Central Asia: the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative. Russia has benefited from both, although in the case of the former, partners might have been harmed economically. There might be steps the United States and allies could take to reduce Russia’s benefits from both of these.

Engaging more with Central Asia could have modest benefits. Expanding Central Asian connectivity to the rest of the world could reduce that area’s trade with Russia. It must be noted, however, that economic growth within these countries would likely have the opposite effect and increase their trade with Russia because economic size and trade are correlated.

Now, little of this has succeeded in the year. Notably, and not in the vein which RAND describes is that militant activity in Afghanistan, as well as along its borders with the CSTO countries has increased, which Russia sees as a threat.

There are frequent reports of the FSB arresting various terrorist elements that either came from Central Asian republics or were recruited from groups from there. There is little evidence that the US has anything to do with that, but there are some reports that unknown black hawks have been extracting militants from all around, and they’ve resurfaced in northern Afghanistan, after a while.

The US efforts to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and is attempting to counter various projects in the Eurasian Economic Union, which Russia is part of such as the Nord Stream 2, but they are unrelated to Central Asia. In conclusion, regarding this, RAND appears to be a bit far from what’s been carried out, or if such measures are being implemented – they’re not being effective.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Moldova

Transnistria is a Russian-speaking enclave within Moldova that currently hosts a Russian peacekeeping force and army base.

Officially, Russian policy toward Transnistria is ambiguous. Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept includes only a single, rather inarticulate statement:

Russia strongly advocates a political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts in the post-Soviet space, specifically, Russia works within the existing multilateral negotiating mechanism to find an inclusive solution to the Transnistrian issue, respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral status of the Republic of Moldova in determining the special status of Transnistria.

The United States could encourage Transnistria’s youth (who, according to some journalistic accounts, might be more pro-West than their elders) to push their pseudo-state to leave the Russian orbit.

Moldovan cooperation in an effort to expel the Russians would not be easy to secure. In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon stated, “A NATO office in Chisinau [Moldova’s capital], in a neutral country, is a provocation. I do not want this. I want neither NATO nor this Russia-led [military] alliance as far as armed forces are concerned.”

There’s been very limited movement throughout 2020, but it is likely that activities have been more focused on Belarus, Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, and Moldova has been left for sometime in the near (or far future). The pro-Western presidential candidate, Maia Sandu, won the 2020 election in Moldova, and she’s already promoting the ideal of the need of the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping force from Transnistria. This move sets conditions for the increase of instability.

RAND’s General Recommendations

Extending Russia through geopolitical competition is a fundamentally difficult and dangerous proposition. One might bait Russia into extending its foreign commitments, but only at the risk of serious setbacks to local U.S. partners. Even if such efforts succeeded in generating Russian withdrawals, the result would be the opposite of an extension.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Any geopolitical moves to extend Russia would also need to consider other options that (for reasons of length and resources) were not considered here in depth—namely, intensifying NATO’s cooperation with Sweden and Finland, pressuring Russia’s claims in the Arctic, and checking its influence in the Arctic.

Many of these are not exactly spot on, and whether they’re entirely connected to what’s going on comes down to conspiracy theories. However, it is fact that within a year and a half of the publishing, many of these recommendations have been implemented.

There has been a regime change attempt in Belarus, which is still on-going. Armenia and Azerbaijan went to warn for Nagorno-Karabakh, and Russia had to mediate, deploy peacekeepers and further resources, as well as is being accused of both sides for either losing the war for Armenia, or stealing away a bigger victory for Azerbaijan.

Militants are being delivered to South Caucasus, and even families are being relocated there from Syria.

The US and the “moderate rebels” in Syria are still operating, albeit not as actively as before, but Israel is there to provide assistance by bombing Syrian and alleged Iranian targets.

Attempts to spread chaos in Central Asia are apparent, and the FSB continues arresting various extremist elements, but there are likely more who are roaming around and entering the country through various channels.

It is unknown what will happen in Moldova, as of yet, but the trend is alredy seen.

Another thing that could be added is cooperating with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, assisting in the forming of the autonomous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, making pushes to repeat that questionable “success” in other countries such as Montenegro, and more.

Regardless, pressure on Moscow is being exerted from quite a few directions, at the same time, and it is unlikely that under US President Joe Biden this will end. After all, his chosen aides all plan to improve relations with allies, while countering Russia’s spreading influence. Namely in Ukraine, since Biden appears to have a soft spot for the country from which he and his son allegedly funneled billions. Ukraine, and Eastern Ukraine, could also be the best direction from which to target Russia.

Things are still developing on many fronts, and the pieces are yet to fall squarely on the board.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Washington Seeks to Divide Syria through the Use of Terrorists

November 24, 2020

By Vladimir Platov
Source: New Eastern Outlook

Recent events clearly show the real goals of Washington’s policy in Syria, aimed not at finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict and returning Syrian refugees to their homeland, but at continuing to plunder. The United States refused to participate in the International Conference in Damascus held by Moscow on November 11-12 to facilitate Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons and attempted to interfere with the event.

Simultaneously, the American military, in every possible way, protects and encourages the Kurdish militants. The US pumps oil in the northeast stealing Syria’s natural resources and national property and considers the Syrian Arab Republic a cheap resource. So, according to the Syrian Arab news agency SANA, the US armed forces, with the help of Kurdish militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on October 28, took another batch of Syrian oil from Syria to Iraq in 37 oil tankers from the settlement of As Suwayda to the north of Iraq through the Al Waleed border crossing. They were accompanied by a convoy of cars and armored personnel carriers from Kurdish SDF fighters. US troops, together with SDF fighters, control most of the oil fields in eastern Syria, where a large number of trucks with weapons have been transferred in recent months.

Earlier, the United States tried to unilaterally “legalize” SAR’s oil flow by creating a fictitious company called Delta Crescent Energy LLC. The fact that the American military’s actions in Syria are an “international state racketeering” and cannot be justified by their fight against the terrorist group DAESH (banned in the Russian Federation – ed.) has already been repeatedly stated from the official tribunes by the governments of Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Russia, including before the UN.

Not only outright robbery characterizes US policy in Syria. According to a report published by the Qatar-based Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), attacks by the US-led “anti-terrorist coalition” have killed more than 3,000 Syrian civilians since 2014. The fate of 8,000 is unknown. Over six years of intervention, so-called “fighters against terrorism” have reportedly committed mass murder at least 172 times, bombed schools and markets, and put their allies, whose local core are Kurdish militants, in charge of the “liberated” regions.

It is necessary to pay special attention to the fact that, over the past year, the American administration, to implement its plan to fragment Syria, has been especially actively working to reconcile the Syrian Kurds’ political factions. In particular, Washington acted as an intermediary between the Kurdish national unity parties, the largest of which is the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the political arm of the People’s Self-Defense Forces (YPG), which are the backbone of the SDF and the Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC). Washington’s primary goal is to create Kurdish “autonomy” while creating preconditions for a US military presence in the country. Especially in the oil-producing region of Syria, which, no doubt, the United States will attach particular importance to in any post-war agreements.

To further destabilize Syria’s situation and implement plans to divide this country, Kurdish militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on instructions from Washington, released from prisons more than 500 terrorists in eastern Syria in early November. As a result, the activity of terrorist cells has noticeably increased throughout Syria. For example, the London-based non-governmental organization Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), citing Syrian sources, reported severe losses of government troops due to a large-scale attack by the terrorist group Daesh’s militants in the east of Hama province. Twenty-one Syrian soldiers were killed in the attack near the Abu Fayyad dam east of the city of Salamiyah in the countryside of Hama, and the terrorists themselves lost more than 40 people. After the failed attack, the militants fled south towards the desert area of ​​Badiya al-Sham.

On November 12, a convoy of Turkish Armed Forces heading from Kafr Shil was blown up in the north Syrian province of Aleppo, in outskirts of Afrin.

Almost simultaneously, an incident occurred in the south of the country – in the region of Daraa. A convoy of Russian Armed Forces accompanied by Syrian security forces was heading from Izraa to Sahwat al-Qamh when an improvised explosive device was detonated near the settlement of Musseifra.

On November 13, militants of the DAESH terrorist group (banned in the Russian Federation – ed.) attacked a Syrian Arab Army unit near the city of Al Sukhnah  in the province of Homs, killing eleven soldiers and capturing and subsequently executing one soldier. According to observers’ estimates, all three events may have common roots associated with the consolidation of the Kurdish militants and DAESH’s efforts after releasing 500 militants from the American occupation administration prisons. According to published Al-Monitor reports, many DAESH “sleeping cells” have been deployed in villages on the Euphrates River banks, such as Al-Shuhayl, Hajin, Al-Susa, and Al-Baguz, and the recent release of 500 terrorists by SDF has helped with recruitment.

The situation becomes more complicated because Kurdish militants do not want to fight the terrorist underground in Syria’s occupied territory. The SDF wants the region to remain volatile to continue to receive support from the United States, Al-Monitor emphasizes. Besides, judging by previous reports from sources, Kurdish groups continue to get a share in the theft and smuggling of Syrian oil – and need to at all costs maintain their presence in the oil-rich region by simulating the fight against DAESH, which, by the way, fully satisfies Washington’s plans.

Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example
Also see the Video

Zeinab Daher

[And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah, “They are dead.” Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not.] – Holy Quran, Surat al-Baqarah, verse 154.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

As you enter his house, you have to notice how simple, humble and cozy it is. The house where Hajj Hatem Adib Hmedeh, better known as Alaa 125, raises his small family, sends you positive vibes due to the amicable atmosphere spread over its simple details.

Although the family is used to his absence [because he spends almost all his time at work, in the forefronts of the battlefield], they enjoy a unique relationship that is based on respect, love, appreciation and modesty.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

The down-to-earth leader, who represents a model to all those who got to know him, favored resistance to having a very well paid job abroad as soon as he graduated with a degree in telecommunication engineering.

In this regard, his wife Mrs. Mariam Fakhreddine told us that as soon as he graduated in 1994, he was offered a job in his domain with a net monthly salary of 3000$, which he strictly rejected, as he finds the duty to resist the occupier at the first level of his priorities.

The man who loves and encourages education, also mastered in electronic engineering, and then continued studies in physics.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

As much as he is dedicated to his job, Hajj Alaa devotes all his emotions to the family he belongs to. His wife stressed that whenever he can, he calls, asks about their needs, and expresses how much he misses and loves his two kids, namely his beloved Fatima.

Hajj Hatem Hmedeh does not care for any detail regarding the materialistic life. He can manage to live with any situation, no matter what simplicities or difficulties life would bring.

The pious man, his wife describes him, performs his religious duties with all the devotion of a real worshipper. His relationship with Allah almighty is way more important than the life people live.

The most important among his deeds is to fulfill all divine duties. He considers that when a person does not make any behavior that angers Allah, then he would have never made any single deed that harms his worshippers.

The husband supported his partner during her hard times of either failing or successful pregnancies. He was pleased whether Allah wanted to gift him with his daughter and son, or whether two previous pregnancies were destined to death.

When he comes home, he benefits from the time to give his wife a break from taking care of the children. He takes it upon himself to take care for them, teach them their lessons, take them out, play with them and compensate them with the short times he can spend there.

The father doesn’t kiss his beloved 11 years old Fatima but on her hands. However, he lets his 8 years old Ali acquire much of his characteristics. Ali, his mom says, looks very like his dad. Referring to his behavior more than the physical shape, Mrs. Mariam stresses that he takes care of his sister as if a man is doing so.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

When Ali learned that his father is martyred, he told everybody who was at their home not to cry: “Don’t bother him, my father doesn’t like to hear someone crying.”

When she was 8 years old, Fatima sent her father a flower with a person she knew could deliver it. Three days later, the caring father called her: “Thank you my sweetheart, your flower has been delivered.” Some three years later, the flower was still saved very well with the loving father. When he was martyred, it was found among his belongings.

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

Other than his military suit, Hajj Alaa just owns three shirts, a couple of trousers and a pair of shoes. “My military suit is my clothes,” the martyr always says.

Whenever a problem happens to be, Martyr Leader Hajj Hatem Hmedeh depends on the divine intervention that facilitates solving it. His every time comment is that Allah hears and sees everything: “I am with you both, I hear and I see,” Holy Quran, surat Taha, verse 46.

However, he so much believes in the sensed tangible evidence rather than a group of words said without any proof. His famous word, his wife says: “Words are illusions, truth is numbers.”

Martyrs Do Not Die! Hajj ’Alaa 125’ Example

Whether among his family members, companions or all the people who loved his soul, the martyred leader will ever be living in the minds, hearts, souls and entire lives of the people whom he admired, and who loved him truly in return.

Note: The verbs in this article describing the martyr’s personality have been written in the simple present tense because as the title said “martyrs do not die”, Hajj Alaa’s deeds will never stop taking place because the soul will ever be more effective than the body.

Source: Al-Ahed News

الحريري ينصّبُ نفسه زعيماً لمعارضة سوريّة وهميّة!

د. وفيق إبراهيم

السؤال هنا لا يقتصر فقط على الهجوم العنيف الذي أطلقه رئيس الحكومة السابق سعد الحريري نحو الدولة السورية.

ولا على إعلان تأييده للمعارضة السورية معلناً على رؤوس الأشهاد استعداده الدائم لإسنادها بكل ما تحتاجه لأن 85 في المئة من السنة السوريين مظلومون ومضطهدون ونازحون، كما زعم علناً على شاشة إحدى محطات التلفزة التابعة لحزب القوات اللبنانية.

لم يكتفِ السعد بهذا القدر من الشتائم، معتبراً ايضاً ان الرئيس بشار الأسد «قتل شعبه» على حد مزاعمه الكريهة.

هذا الى جانب مشين مما أدلى به وريث رفيق الحريري كما قدّم نفسه، «فأنا ابن رفيق الحريري اي المرشح الطبيعي الدائم لرئاسة الحكومة»، هي واحدة من جمل كثيرة بدا فيها سعد منتشياً متضخّماً ينتابه إحساس السيطرة على الساحة السنية والارتباطات الخارجية عند الأميركيين والفرنسيين وآل سعود.

هناك سؤالان ينبثقان بمفرديهما من الجانب السوري من مقابلته ويتعلق بمواقف حلفاء سورية في لبنان الذي انتقدوا إنما بملامسات خفيفة مقابلة الشيخ سعد في كامل جوانب ما تطرّقت إليه، من دون أي اقتراب من موقفه المخجل من سورية.

والحلفاء المقصودون هنا هم حركة أمل وحزب الله والمردة والقوى الوطنية وطلال أرسلان ووئام وهاب ونفر كبير من القوى والأحزاب.

لجهة السؤال الثاني فيذهب الى الدولة اللبنانية او ما تبقى منها، في محاولة لحضّها على رفض الدعم الذي أعلن «السعد» عن استعداده لتقديمه للمعارضة السورية. وهذا يشابه مع ما سبق وفعله في الهجوم الإرهابي على الدولة السورية في 2014، عندما أرسل سعد الحريري رجله النائب السابق عقاب صقر ليفتح مكتباً في تركيا بوظيفة تمويل المعارضات السورية التي كانت تنطلق الى سورية عبر حدود تركيا.

إخبار ضدّ عقاب صقر "لانتسابه" إلى تنظيم "القاعدة"! - مجلة محكمة

وهذا ما اعترف به رئيس وزراء قطر السابق حمد بن جاسم عندما كشف أن بلاده مع السعودية والإمارات موّلت هذه التنظيمات بـ 176 مليار دولار متذرّعاً بأنهم لم يكونوا على علم بأنها إرهابية.

وأشار الى قيادات لبنانية تلقت مالاً من هذه الكمية لدعم داعش والنصرة وهم سعد الحريري والريفي ونهاد المشنوق بالإضافة الى النائب عقاب، وهي مبالغ بمئات ملايين الدولارات.

فهل تقبل دولة لبنان الكبير والأرز الشامخ تصريحات سعد المرشح لتشكيل حكومة جديدة؟

لقد ذهب سعد نحو استمالة أهالي بيروت بتأكيده أكثر من مرة على ضرورة ترميمها ساعياً الى كسب السنة اللبنانيين والسوريين بالتأكيد على أنه يعمل من أجلهم، مرتحلاً نحو سورية معبراً عن قلقه على 85 في المئة من أهلها السنة، معلناً انه المدد للمعارضات السورية، وهذه المعارضات لم تعد موجودة إلا من خلال داعش في البادية وبعض انحاء شرق الفرات، وتنظيمات الاخوان المسلمين وهيئات تحرير الشام والقاعدة في غرب سورية.

يمكن هنا الاستنتاج الوازن بأن الشيخ سعد بدأ بإعادة وصل نماذج جديدة من عقاب صقر مع هذه التنظيمات.

على مستوى السنة السوريين، فالشيخ سعد يعرف أن التمايزات المذهبية في سورية خفيفة ولو وقف 85 في المئة من السوريين معادين للأسد لما تمكنت دولته من مجابهة تدخلات من كل الإرهاب العالمي بدعم واحتلال اميركي أوروبي تركي مباشر وإسناد من عشرات الدول الأخرى.

إنهم اذاً اولئك السوريون من كل الانتماءات الدينية، وخصوصاً السنة الذين يدافعون عن سورية ضد الإرهاب السعودي الفكري والسياسي والمادي الذي يروّج له رئيس سابق لحكومة لبنان يعمل لإعادة تكليفه من جديد.

فهل تشكل إطلالات سعد على الموضوع السوري محاولة لتعزيز الدور السعودي المتراجع في ما تبقى من معارضات سورية وهمية تعمل الآن في خدمة المشروع التركي؟

للتذكير فقط فإن أكثر من 15 مليون سوري يقيمون ضمن سيادة الدولة السورية على الرغم من عدوان دولي عربي إقليمي على سورية منذ عقد كامل. ولا تزال الدولة تقدّم الخدمات الأساسية لمواطنيها وسط حصار أميركي أوروبي عليها بمشاركة حلفائهم، فيما لم يتمكن المرحوم رفيق وابنه سعد من تأمين مياه وكهرباء واستقرار نسبي للبنانيين بعد ثلاثة عقود من إمساكهم برئاسة مجلس الوزراء.

ما هو المطلوب اذاً؟

اولا موقف من دولة لبنان بأنها لا تقبل أي علاقات مع معارضات إرهابية في بلد شقيق هي أيضاً عضو في الأمم المتحدة ومجاورة للبنان.

أما الأحزاب والقوى والشخصيات اللبنانية الحليفة لسورية، فالمعتقد أنها لن تتأخر في إدانة مواقف سعد السورية مع الإصرار على دعم الدولة السورية بقيادة «أسدها»، هذه الدولة التي تمكنت عبر هزيمة الإرهاب من حماية المشرق العربي بأسره من البحر المتوسط اللبناني حتى أعالي العراق واليمن لان انتصار الارهاب كان قابلاً للتمدد في مختلف دول المنطقة، وراحلاً نحو إعادة تشكيل الشرق الاوسط الاميركي الكبير بطريقة تفتيت الدول وتجذير صراعات الطوائف والقوميات والمذاهب، وهذا ما ذهبت اليه المقابلة الإعلامية لسعد الحريري.

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ISIS REARS ITS UGLY HEAD IN SOUTHERN SYRIA AND CENTRAL IRAQ

South Front

Tensions between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Syrian Army are growing in southern Idlib. Recently, government forces repeatedly shelled positions of the terrorist groups in the Zawiya Mountain area. The most intense shelling targeted Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists near Fatterah and Sufuhon.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the al-Qaeda-affiliated “Wa Harid al-Muminin” operations room described this as a blatant violation of the ceasefire regime and announced that they’d killed several pro-government fighters in retaliatory strikes.

At the same time, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham blocked several Turkish military vehicles near the town of Darat Izza in western Aleppo. According to local sources, the group is opposing the growth of the Turkish military presence there because earlier Turkish-backed forces opposed its attempt to reopen commercial crossings with the government-held area in western Aleppo and eastern Idlib.

Contraband traffic and various fees on commercial activities are an important source of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s income. Therefore, despite the public declarations to defeat the Assad regime, the group is interested in trade between the militant-held part of Greater Idlib and the government-controlled part of Syria.

Militant groups directly controlled by Turkey also faced a series of attacks. On May 2, a prominent commander of the Sham Corps, known as Haj Talib al-Khatib, survived an assassination attempt receiving light injures. Unknown gunmen on a motorcycle fired on his vehicle on the road linking the towns of al-Nerab and Sarmin. Late on the same day, Abu ‘Arib, a field commander of the Ahrar al-Sham, died from a land mine explosion on the frontline in southern Idlib. A part of Pro-Turkish sources accuses Hayat Tahrir al-Sham of staging such attacks in order to undermine the influence of its Turkish-controlled counterparts even further.

ISIS cells assassinated two Syrian intelligence officers and a supposed Hezbollah member in the province of Daraa in attacks on April 30 and May 2. These assassinations became the latest in a series of ISIS attacks on government forces. Using the instability on the frontline in Idlib, the terrorist group expanded its operations southern Syria.

The ISIS activity is also growing in Iraq.

Early on May 2, ISIS cells carried out coordinated attacks on positions of the Popular Mobilization Forces in the province of Saladin. Nine fighters of the Tigris Regiment were killed near Mukeshefah and a member of the 41th Brigade was killed near Balad. ISIS militants also briefly seized the PMF positions in the Mukeshefah area.

Later on the same day, ISIS terrorists armed with machine guns and sniper rifles fired on a police station in the village of Zaghinah in Diyala province. Four police officers were killed and nine others were injured.

In a separate development, ISIS units detonated an improvised explosive device on the route of a PMF convoy in the district of Udhaim, and then attacked the convoy’s vehicles with machine guns. A soldier was killed and 3 others were injured.

The increasing number of ISIS attacks in late April and early May even drew the attention of the US-led coalition. On April 29, coalition warplanes bombed the ISIS stronghold in the Hamrin Mountains. The strikes followed a PMF security operation in the area. Nonetheless, the following developments in the provinces of Saladin and Diyala demonstrated that the ISIS threat remains an important factor of the security situation in the country.

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RUSSIAN FIGHTER JETS BUZZ US SPY PLANES OFF SYRIAN COAST

South Front

On April 20, gunmen attacked a vehicle of the US-led coalition moving along the road near the village of Roueished in the province of al-Hasakah. Syrian state media reported that the vehicle was destroyed and several US service members were injured in the attack. The US-led coalition has not officially commented on these claims yet.

This became the second report of this kind, which appeared in media this month. On April 6, Hezbollah-linked al-Mayadeen TV said that militants killed a US soldier and several members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. If these attacks really took place, it is likely that the supposed US soldiers killed in the attacks were in fact US-linked private military contractors. Therefore, the Pentagon does not report them as casualties among US personnel.

Syrian security forces seized weapon caches belonging to radical militants near Damascus and Quneitra. The seized weapons and equipment included a Malutka anti-tank missile, several RPG rounds, machine guns, mortars, hand grenades, satellite broadcasting and telecommunications devices, medical equipment and even several cars.

The Damascus countryside and the southern part of Syria have been for long time formally liberated from terrorists. Nonetheless, government forces regularly face various kinds of terrorist activity in these areas. Terrorist cells operating there receive support from the militant held parts of northern and western Syria, and the terrorist threat cannot be fully removed as long as these areas remain in the hands of radical militant groups protected by Turkey.

On April 19 and April 15, Russian fighter jets intercepted US Navy P-8A Poseidon spy planes off the Syrian coast. The increased US reconnaissance activity in the eastern Mediterranean often comes ahead and ahead of the escalation of the conflict. It is possible the Washington leadership also believes that the military situation in Greater Idlib also has chances to explode in the near future.

Since the signing of the March 5 de-escalation agreement in Moscow, Turkey and Russia have achieved no progress in its implementation besides the establishing ceasefire regime in southern and eastern Idlib. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other radical groups used the pause to fortify their positions in the region. Turkey also used this time to deploy additional troops and equipment there. Ankara’s actions demonstrate that it is in fact allied with al-Qaeda-linked groups in Idlib. So, its forces are likely preparing for a new confrontation with the Syrian Army.

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US-TRAINED MILITANTS SURRENDER TO SYRIAN ARMY. ISRAEL TRIES TO ASSASSINATE HEZBOLLAH COMMANDERS

South Front

On April 15th, 27 members of Maghawir al-Thawra, a militant group in the Al-Tanf zone, which is both funded and trained by the US-led coalition, surrendered to the Syrian Army with all of their weapons and equipment. These included 9 vehicles, 11 weapons including 4 heavy machine guns and 5 grenade launchers, as well as up to 7,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibers for small arms, more than 20 RPG rounds, and 6 high-tech communication devices.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, while the Maghawir al-Thawra members were moving to surrender, they were attacked by US-controlled forces and lost 3 vehicles.

Oleg Zhuravlev, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria said militants confessed that “they had been trained by US instructors to commit acts of sabotage at the oil-and-gas and transport infrastructure facilities, as well as to organize terror attacks on territories controlled by Syrian government forces.”

Later on the same day, Russian and Turkish forces conducted a 4th joint patrol along the M4 highway in southeastern Idlib. As on the previous occasions, the patrol took place along a short chunk of the highway west of Saraqib. The rest of the safe zone area agreed by Russian and Turkish leaders on March 5 in Moscow remains in the hands of radical militant groups.

In an official statement released on April 14, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham announced that it had formed 3 new units: the Talhah ibn Ubaydullah Brigade, led by Abu Hafs Binnish, the Ali ibn Abi Talib Brigade, led by Abu Baker Mheen and the Zubayr ibn al-Awam Brigade, led by Abu Mohamad Shura. The group provided no insight into the number of fighters in the new units or their tasks, but the estimated number of the new force is about 1,500.

Last month, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham launched a large recruitment campaign to revive its depleted special forces, the “Red Bands,” as well as its Inghimasi [suicide bombers] force.

Despite the fact that militants profit from the ceasefire regime with direct military protection from Turkey and are using the gained time to re-arm their units and train new fighters, they see any kind of Turkish cooperation with Russia as a direct threat to their interests. In some cases, this even leads to acts of aggression and threats against their sponsor’s forces.

For example, in a video which recently appeared online, members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham were threatening to behead Turkish soldiers moving along the M4 highway and pin their heads to the top of the nearby earth barrier. This is the real face of the so-called moderate opposition that Ankara supports in Greater Idlib.

On April 15, an airstrike targeted an SUV in the town of Jdaidit Yabws right on the border with Lebanon. The vehicle allegedly belonged to Hezbollah, which has become the target of Israeli missiles. The first one missed allowing the passengers to exit the vehicle a few moments before it was hit by the second missile.

The UAE-based Sky News Arabia and al-Arabiya claimed that high-ranking commanders of Hezbollah were the target of the Israeli strike.

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Militants Surrendered to Syrian Army Were Trained on US Military Base

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

Idlib, Syria

Sputnik-World
The surrendered militants said that US instructors had been preparing them for terrorist acts and sabotage at oil and gas and transport facilities, according to the information provided by the Russian military’s centre for the Syrian reconciliation.

A group of 27 militants who surrendered to the Syrian army said they had been trained at the US military base, Rear Adm. Oleg Zhuravlev, the head of the Russian Defence Ministry’s centre for the Syrian reconciliation, said during a briefing on Wednesday.

The US also provided them with weapons and vehicles, he added.

“As a result of the clash, the militants who broke through lost three pickups, 27 people escaped, they are currently under the protection of Syrian government forces in Palmyra. They surrendered dozens of small arms, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, including Western-made ones”, Zhuravlev said.

On the night from 13 to 14 April, a group of militants, who were trained at the US forces’ base in the vicinity of the Rukban camp, tried to get out of At-Tanf area. The militants planned to surrender to government and return to civilian life, Zhuravlev said. On the border of the 55-kilometer security zone, they were attacked by a detachment of the US-backed Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (“Revolutionary Commando Army”) radical group.

“According to the testimony of the members of the illegal armed groups who surrendered to the government, the Americans provided them with pickup vehicles and weapons. US instructors trained them to carry out sabotage at oil and gas and transport infrastructure, as well as organise terrorist acts in the territory controlled by the Syrian government forces”, he said.

The armed conflict between the Syrian government and opposition groups, including terrorists, began in 2011. By 2016, terrorist forces were significantly subdued, while the government and opposition concluded a ceasefire, with Russia, Iran, and Turkey acting as its guarantors.

Militants remain in control of a small pocket of areas in the Idlib province in northwest Syria.

كلهم إرهابيون

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سواء أبقى القيادي المدعو “أبو مالك التلي” على استقالته من “هيئة تحرير الشام” أم تراجع عنها كما تسرب مؤخرا، فإن الأمر لن يغيير من حقيقة أن “جبهة النصرة” التي تتخذ من الهيئة واجهة لها، وتتلقى دعما تركيا وأميركا، مصنفة على اللوائح الدولية كتنظيم إرهابي، واجتثاثه وغيره من التنظيمات الإرهابية حق مشروع للدولة السورية تكفله القوانين الدولية.

ومما لا شك فيه، أن الأنباء تأتي في سياق محاولات النظام التركي وأميركا المتواصلة والرامية إلى نزع صفة الإرهاب عن التنظيم، وتحويله إلى “كيان سياسي”، أملا في استمرار سيطرته على بقعة جغرافية في شمال غرب سورية لاستخدامه في تنفيذ سياستهما في سورية.

فمنذ توقيع “اتفاق موسكو” في الخامس من آذار الماضي والذي نص على وقف إطلاق النار في منطقة خفض التصعيد بادلب وعلى تسيير دوريات مشتركة على طريق اللاذقية – حلب الدولية، ومن ثم قيام إرهابيين بعرقلة إتمام تسيير هذه الدوريات، كثر الترويج عن وجود إرهابيين “متشدديين” قبلوا الاتفاق وآخرين “أكثر تشددا” رفضوه علانية، منهم التلي وأبو الفتح الفرغلي وأبو اليقظان المصري، وكذلك وجود تنظيمات إرهابية “متشددة” يمكن لنظام أردوغان السيطرة عليها مثل “النصرة” وأخرى “أكثر تشددا” لا يستطيع السيطرة عليها ورفضت الاتفاق مثل “حراس الدين” و”الحزب التركستاني”.

أيضا بعد توقيع الاتفاق، تزايد الحديث في وسائل الإعلام التركية وأخرى إقليمية ودولية، منها أميركية، عن أن المرحلة المقبلة ستشهد تغيرا في سياسة “الهيئة” المدعومة بقوة من نظام أردوغان، مع تلميحات إلى عمليات إقصاء ستطال القيادات “الأكثر تشددا” فيها، في إشارة إلى رافضي “اتفاق موسكو”، إضافة إلى عمليات استئصال ستطال التنظيمات “الأكثر تشددا”.

وإن كانت التطورات السابقة تؤكد المؤكد بأن النظام التركي والولايات المتحدة الاميركية تسعيان لرفع صفة الإرهاب عن تنظيم مصنف دوليا أنه “ارهابي” ودعمه من أجل استمرار سيطرته على جزء من الأراضي السورية، فإنه من المفيد تذكير الطرفين بأن سورية قيادة وجيشا وحكومة وشعبا ماضية بكل ما أوتيت من قوة باستعادة سيطرتها على كل شبر من الأراضي السورية وتطهيرها من رجس التنظيمات الارهابية بكل مسمياتها ومن كل الإرهابيين بغض النظر عن ألقابهم من الجولاني إلى التلي إلى الفرغلي الى المصري و غيرهم، فكلهم إرهابيون.

موفق محمد – الوطن

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INFIGHTING AMONG TURKISH PROXIES ERUPTS IN SYRIA. ROCKET STRIKE HITS US-OPERATED OIL FACILITY IN IRAQ

South Front

Infighting among Turkish-backed groups has erupted near the town of Ras al-Ayn. According to local sources, conflicts over the captured houses and looted properties became the main reason of the conflict between members of the Sultan Murad armed group which attacked other Turkish-backed rebels. The situation rapidly escalated to the extent when the Turkish Army had to deploy additional troops and equipment in the area in order to put an end to the infighting. At the same time, the Turkish Army continued deploying additional troops and military equipment in the province of Idlib.

Last night, nearly 30 trucks and military vehicles entered Syria and reached the countryside of the town of Jisr al-Shughur, controlled by al-Qaeda-linked militants. Two days ago, the Turkish Army established 3 new observation points there.

A US military convoy consisting of 35 trucks laden with military and logistic supplies entered Syria from northern Iraq. The convoy entered the country via the al-Walid border crossing controlled by the US military and US-backed Kurdish armed groups and moved supplies to US military facilities in the countryside of al-Hasakah. According to Syrian sources, the US military is now working to reinforce its positions near the Khrab al-Jeer military airport.

Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV claimed that a US soldier and several members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces had been killed in an attack by radical militants on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, in the province of Deir Ezzor. Earlier, similar claims were made by several pro-Kurdish and pro-opposition sources. The situation remains unclear. However, over the past 2 months ISIS cells have ramped up their operations in the provinces of Homs and Deir Ezzor.

On April 6, a barrage of rockets struck near the oil-rich area near Iraq’s southern city of Basra. The strike hit the Zubeir oil field operated by the US company Halliburton in the Burjesia area. According to state-run Basra Oil Co., which oversees oil operation in the south, the attack had not affected production and export operations.

The April 6 strike became the first such attack since June 2019 and came only 2 days after Iraqi resistance groups released a joint statement calling US forces in Iraq occupants and in fact threatening them with a military action.

Since January 2020, there has been an increase in rocket attacks on US forces and facilities in Iraq. However, until now, all attacks were aimed against the sites affiliated with the US military and intelligence. The April 6 attack indicates that US energy giants that operate in Iraq are also in danger.

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The War of Terror on Syria Through Forensic Medicine 2 – GRAPHIC

April 2, 2020 Arabi Souri

Syria - War of Terror through Forensic Eyes

This is Part 2 of a documentary series by investigative reporter Ugarit Dandash, the documentary is part of Ms. Dandash’s From the Ground documentary series where she reports from Syria the horrors the Syrian people lived inflicted on them by the USA and all its cronies, lackeys, and stooges combined efforts over the past 9 years.

From the Ground – The Syrian War through the Eyes of Forensic Medicine was made exclusively for the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news station in Arabic. It was aired on Thursday night 26 March 2020.

All countries which supported the ‘freedom fighters’, ‘armed opposition’, ‘moderate rebels’, call them whatever Orwellian name that suits you, are an accomplice in each crime committed against the Syrian people, needless to say, that each taxpayer and each citizen of those countries has much blood on their hands especially those who keep quiet hiding behind the ‘democracy elections’ delusion while their governments kill in their names, murder using their money, destroy families and hide behind the ‘democracy’ slogan, and not being held by those citizens for the crimes they committed all over the world. If you didn’t know for over 9 years what your government did in Syria, this will leave you with no excuse.

The video file size is beyond the capacity of our site, our YouTube channel was long deleted by YouTube, so we had to split it into two parts embedded below, followed by the transcript in English of the full video for history. Please excuse any typos, it was definitely unintentional.

Part 1 of 2, Episode 2:

For Episode 1:

The War of Terror on Syria Through Forensic Medicine – GRAPHIC

English translation transcript:

The War in the Eyes of Forensic Medicine – 1

Report by Ugarit Dandash

A story that took a huge media sensation was that of journalist Marie Colvin, the forensic medical report proved that what happened was the opposite and that the state did not kill her, but the gunmen themselves who were using her were the ones who got rid of her.

The shape of the distribution of shrapnel and the nail, this is proof that it is not a shell but an improvised primitive handmade grenade.

Ochlik (Remi Ochlik) and Marie Colvin died instantly, the injuries were not survivable.

There was the story of the photojournalist Remi Ochlik, on March 2, 2012, a body buried in the Baba Amr neighborhood was examined, by a forensic examination, we saw extensive wounds with extensive material loss and stable shrapnel in the body. There was talk of negotiations to transfer him for treatment with renowned journalist Marie Colvin. The forensic report concluded that the death was direct and immediate, and that all the negotiations were fictitious and false.

At that time, it was said in the media that the Syrian government had been asked to agree to evacuate injured foreign journalists in the Baba Amr neighborhood in cooperation with the Red Crescent for treatment, I say that the nature of the injuries that exist does not allow for life.

Question: Was it an immediate death?

A: It was an immediate death, so there was an attempt to smuggle bodies or smuggle other journalists into a particular convoy.

The role of forensic medicine in identifying unidentified bodies is the essential and important role, as the ring begins with forensics. We study any unknown remains and conduct photographs in coordination with the Criminal Security Branch and the Burial Office, where the same number given by the forensic doctor is circulated through the Criminal Security Branch and the Burial Office and then burial as soon as the studies are completed.

There were bodies that were re-examined in the countries to which it was sent to, it caught my attention in one of the reports I read the word “hand-made” means in English Hand Made, this phrase was translated from Arabic to Local Made, a phrase that if translated in good faith it is not true, because the local bomb It may be made and it may be made by the gunman in Syria, but when you say Hand Made, it means that it is often made by a terrorist, not by an army.

We were able to identify the injuries in decomposing bodies, there were injuries of explosive nature.

In Aleppo city, there are many unidentified remains, with the number so far reaching 3,225 unidentified remains, more than 1,000 have been identified so far.

As a forensic pathologist, there is always a high risk, and the main danger was like any citizen of Aleppo at the time who was liable to die, the missiles did not exclude a meter. If I draw you a masterplan for Aleppo, I can show you where the shells landed, I memorize them.

All those I have examined, especially the children, have been ghosts following me until now, and this crisis can be added to the forensic doctor’s crises.

The external looks of the forensic doctor or his personality may be solid, but that does not reflect what happens inside the forensic doctor, how many scars have left a pain? Sometimes I see cases where I hold my tears and leave a lot of pain in me, there are situations I can’t forget.

War through the Eyes of Forensics 2

Investigation by Ugarit Dandesh

The high temperature, the large number of corpses, and the decay that has occurred is a hotbed of sepsis. We were putting the bodies near the campus of the university hospital and the patients and their families up to the seventh floor complained about the smell, sometimes the bodies were stretching over an area of 100 meters, the view was very harmful, so we expedited the forensic examination, and we were exposed to dangers, for example, one time I was examining the body of a foreign fighter and was surprised to find the explosive belt and some bombs with him. We immediately asked the competent authorities to come and deal with the matter.

We, as forensic doctors, like everyone else, heard about foreign journalists in Syria and then we heard that a journalist, Marie Colvin, was killed in Syria and the media claimed that she was hit by a regime-guided missile and targeted in Baba Amr. We received information after a while that a group of bodies were buried in a place in Baba Amr and there is a suspicion that foreign journalists are among them. A specialized team under the supervision of the Civil Defense dug up these graves and was brought to the military hospital in Homs, I had moved at that time to the military hospital building because the National Hospital was directly targeted and blown up and there was no possibility to continue working there and we needed protection.

When we identified Marie Colvin’s body, at this time we collected information about Marie Colvin so that we could identify her, Marie Colvin found that her left eye was covered and that she had been injured while working as a journalist, and also we found that she had 26 dental implants and that she had a silicon ring behind the eye ball. This information is from the Internet.

Upon examination of the bodies, it was found that she was wearing a man’s clothes, which may have been for cold reasons or for field reasons, and only the upper clothes and underneath were wearing a woman’s clothes. Immediately the autopsy was carried out in the appropriate places we saw the silicon ring under the left eye and it is well documented we have, dental implants have been documented, a radial scan of Marie Colvin’s body has been performed and the important thing in this matter and what we are distinguished in documentation is the presence of irregular polymorphic fragments inside the body, including a nail. This needs to be analyzed and read:

First, we learned that this body belonged to Marie Colvin, but we had to read what happened. The bottom line is that Marie Colvin was not killed by a guided missile, but killed by a home-made bomb, because when you find irregular shrapnel in a body, nails, or shots, it’s a homemade bomb because regular armies use regular missiles, regular bullets, while the average person when he makes a package fills them with anything, like iron scatters or something, the presence of such objects on the x-ray indicates that they were killed by a homemade bomb.

She was killed on February 22, 2012, and the body was found on March 2, 2012, almost 10 or 12 days later.

The other thing that we were able to analyze as forensic doctors, at that time it was said in the media that the Syrian government was asked to agree to evacuate the injured foreign journalists who are in the Baba Amr in cooperation with the Red Crescent for treatment, I say that the nature of the injuries that exist does not allow life, death was immediate, so there was an attempt to smuggle bodies or smuggle other journalists into a particular convoy. Because Oshlik and Marie Colvin were killed instantly, when they were injured, they were killed instantly.

Q: You mean the same type of injury for both?

A: I mean the injury is not viable, when you see Marie Colvin’s body and you see the injuries on it and the shrapnel and it’s documented you will see that this person is unviable, he was injured and lost life immediately within minutes, so Marie Colvin did not go through the stage of an injured journalist, she was killed immediately…

Q: Means it can’t be negotiated as an injured?

A: There was something else out of this. I remember when we exhumed the bodies from the grave it the names were written on the shroud, which helped us to identify, it was written in French, Oshlik and Marie Colvin on the shroud.

Question: But forensics can’t be based solely on writing?

A: Certainly not, we did research and saw dental implants that are also documented by photocopies and the silicon ring is also documented by photocopiers.

Q: Was writing in French, not English?

Answer: In French.

Q: Is it possible that there are other French people?

A: Either other people are French or people who are fluent in French, this is a theory only this thought occurred to me because it helped me with the process of identification because the main task for which I came out is to find the bodies of Marie Colvin and Oschlik. The quick scanning of the bodies that I brought and noticing the presence of writing on the shroud at that time helped me get my job done more quickly.

Q: Do you think, by examining the bodies and according to medical data, that they were killed in the same place and time, or that there is a difference between them?

A: Marie Colvin’s body had glass scatters on it, either killed in a car or killed in a house with glass, which is unlikely because no one sits in a room with glass in a war. So, I think she was killed in a car and this is a personal conclusion that I cannot defend scientifically, but this is my observation.

Q: What did you do with the bodies of foreign fighters?

A: We are certainly examining all the bodies that we receive professionally and write their reports, those of them who have special status are fully examined and properly buried, we are a state of institutions, but about their numbers that is in the custody of the competent authorities, we do not interfere with this subject, we end our work when we hand over the body and bury it in a decent manner. In our field, we never interfere with politics, we are a medical authority that respects the oath we have sworn. Indeed, I assure you that all opposition or foreign fighters are systematically screened and properly buried, this is an institutional state.

Dr. Manal Jada, Head of the Forensic Medical Center in Latakia: At this time I remember the first massacre (in Latakia province) that was the Massacre of Slanfah, the massacres in the villages of the northern countryside in Slanfah, in which large numbers of martyrs of all age groups were killed, children, elders and women. Events began on August 4, 2011, injuries began to come to the National Hospital and all government hospitals and others in the Latakia area, and the numbers were large and the injuries were enormous, and the death toll is large more than 80 deaths arrived on August 4.

Two weeks later mass graves were discovered…

Question: After the army liberated the villages?

Answer: Yes, on August 19 and August 20, I will mention the large graves, in the first grave we discovered 67 martyr victims, in the grave that followed the number reached 128, and the number in three graves on 19 and 20 August reached 152 martyrs.

Then we began to discover individual graves, such as a grave in the village of Beit Shikohi, other than the one in Nabbata and Baluta, and graves where there were large numbers, we discovered six or seven graves in each area, in Al-Kashba, Beit Shikohi, for example… The total numbers with us have reached 262.

The bodies were at an advanced degree of decay and the main task on our shoulders was to identify the victims, there were entire families buried, I do not like to remember these incidents because it was repeated, another massacre in Jableh on 23 May 2015, this date is etched in my memory, May 23, 2015, I remember how I was during my shift and it was a Monday, suddenly we started receiving severe injuries diverted from the Jableh area. There were three terrorist bombings in the Jableh area, the Jableh Bus Garage area and the electricity area, and in the garages there a large number of citizens gathered, and the third most horrible massacre at the same time was inside the National Hospital in Jableh.

Q: When the booby-trapped ambulance went in and exploded?

A: The car got in and exploded, and the whole hospital was blown out, the entire medical staff was killed, our colleagues were doctors we examined their bodies, nurses, children, patients, we had 132 martyrs.

Dr. Hashim Shalash, Head of the Forensic Medical Center in Aleppo: There are many graves in the gardens in most of Aleppo, especially in areas previously controlled by armed terrorist groups, and there are graves in areas that were controlled by the state because the Burial Office was unable to carry the deaths to the cemeteries, because of the cordon imposed by the militants on the outskirts of Aleppo city completely.

The number is expected to be around 5,700 bodies buried in the parks, moved in 2018 and 2019 by the Burial Office. This statistic is according to the Burial Office: Some 1,700 identified bodies have been moved, and the remaining approximately 4,000 unidentified bodies we are working to identify, and the identified bodies have been moved in well-thought-out organizational plans by the Burial Office and the City Council and moving them to the modern cemetery. For the unidentified bodies, photographing and coordinating with the CID, DNA samples are taken to better study and identify them.

One evening I left the forensics office in the University Hospital late and the mortars started pouring on us from all sides, I thought that if I died, there would be no forensic doctor to examine the cases, and it’s a disaster that there’s no forensic doctor left, I’ve stayed alone, and if I die, there won’t be another forensic doctor in the city. . We were suffering a lot. Then the army started intervening and the situation improved, but we had suffered as a forensic sit-in a lot. I’m saying this so you know how much the forensic doctor has suffered as a human being. Forensic doctors were killed from us, forensic doctors were kidnapped from us, forensic doctors from us were subjected to massive torture by the gunmen, and a number of forensic doctors emigrated. I used to come out of my house and look around and say to myself that it is very possible that I will not go home, this is a time when I was in Aleppo and before it in Idlib, today could be my last day.

I go into the morgue and look and think when is my turn between these bodies from the number of shells that were coming down on us. As a forensic doctor we were in high risk, the main risk like any citizen of Aleppo city at the time is liable to die, the missiles did not exclude a meter, I can draw you the plan of Aleppo and explain to you where the missiles came down, I save their place because all those who examined them and especially the children remained until now ghosts haunt me, and this crisis adds to the crises The coroner, especially the children I have examined, the cries of their parents is following me. If I tell you some stories, dozens of episodes won’t be enough of how much tragedies we’ve witnessed.

Q: Did any international body or media outlet that Marie Colvin was working for ask you, because of the great controversy that occurred at the time, to send your reports to them or contact you? Because at that time, the Syrian state was held responsible, which was giving the data at the time. Have you dealt with this issue directly?

A: For me as a forensic doctor, I am accompanied by a judicial disclosure body, which is headed by a judge with the CID. I duly handed over all these documents to the courts, like for any body that is examined, we documented everything according to the official channels and handed over to the official authorities and no one asked us about this subject, and we did not talk about it, we did not talk we were a period that we do not dare to talk about, and more than one media outlet asked me for an interview and I refused because we did not have confidence in any of them to give them the information which they would misuse. We had no doubt that the media in the whole world was like that, and that was the reality.

But it was documented in accordance with the judicial principles in which we operate in accordance with Syrian law and the body was handed over. When the bodies were re-examined in the countries to which it went to, But it caught my attention in one of their reports written in English they wrote that Marie Colvin was killed by a ‘local-made’ bomb, and this is a phrase that if translated in good faith it is not true, because the local bomb may be manufactured by the Syrian army and may be manufactured by the gunman in Syria, but when you say ‘hand-made’ it means it was mostly made by a terrorist and not made by armies, this translation was wrong, this is how the reading of things was done, this is one of the notes that I noticed in one of the translations and you can search you will find the word Local Made and you will not find the word Hand Made although in my report in Arabic the word Hand Made is written.

The bodies are decaying, we were able to identify the injuries, there were injuries of an explosive nature, and we had injuries of multiple gunshot wounds i.e. conventional fire weapons such as Kalashnikovs or others, we had injuries though it seemed as of gunshot fire, its head was explosive, because the injuries are wide at the time we see damage in the head, for example, and limited to this injury, we had various injuries with all the weapons, whether explosive or military, we saw burned bodies, we saw burned bodies of children, burned, completely charred.

Q: Was the burn done before death? Have they been burned alive?

A: It was difficult because we did the examination after two weeks, i.e. after digging, there are also weapons that cause burns, I can’t say exactly if they are during life or not, we can confirm if it happens during life if there is not that much decomposition, if it is not long since the time of the accident, the discovery of the graves started rolling after September, the bodies were largely decomposed.

Q: Was there dismembering or slaughter?

A: We saw severed and buried heads; we saw an entire family buried inside a well.

Q: Can the forensics in this case determine whether the bodies were thrown alive (inside the well) or killed and then thrown?

A: Biomarkers are the specialty of forensic medicine, but the way I will explain is a difficult scientific method, we can determine, and it is our job to determine whether he drowned before or after.

Q: Is it possible to mention even a little because the subject of drowning in particular is repeated frequently during the war, some were still alive when they were thrown into the river and others elsewhere?

Answer: Of course there are vital signs when the body is recovered shows whether it inhaled water or killed and dumped after death with water, and of course the sooner we examine the bodies in cases of drowning the more accurate the result, because after the recovery of the body and within two hours there decomposing accelerates, once recovered from the water the rapid decomposing occurs more than a week or two more than if the body is in the open.

After the break:

I have examined many mass graves, the bodies and the remains piled up on top of each other, the remains mingle, and of course if the exhumation is not correct, we will never reach results.

Journalist Jacquier was moving in the neighborhoods of Homs, a mortar shell landed, during which time more than one person was injured in the same incident, it is not possible to say that Jacquier was targeted.

In all honesty, forensics was not ready for such a war and such consequences, and there is a very important problem that most of the forensic facilities were destroyed, for example in Aleppo there was a very large and civilized building that was occupied and destroyed by the militants in a barbaric manner.

What we could notice on the body of Jacquier that there were 3 craters. when we examined them, it was possible to read that each fragment of them had a different axis, when you see three fragments of different axes that often gave the impression that it was caused by an explosion rather than a sniper.

At first the forensic doctors suffered because of the existence of specific cases that we haven’t seen of its kind, types of weapons we do not know what they are, and then the forensic doctors practiced and had sufficient experience and knowledge of how to deal with all cases.

The cases I remember are children, severe injuries to children. What is the psychological state of a child who suffered pre-death, I reveal a dead body but I always put myself (in that place): during the child’s period of torture, was death a mercy for him?

The whole of Syria is suffering from the sanctions on (lab) material, imagine there are sanctions on importing DNA lab testing kits, what humanity is the West is preaching? These DNA testing kits are only used to identify corpses, what does it have to do with politics?

We have periodic courses more than one course a year in cooperation with the International Red Cross and supervised by the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, and we have the problem that there are very few forensic doctors in Syria.

My ambition is to make a file for all the missing under the supervision of the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, to have data on nation level, not only to depend on cross-examining data, it’s a costly project, it will take time but let’s start it.

There was a crossing between us and the gunmen in Bustan Al-Qasr, the people use it to cross from one side (of Aleppo) to the other, the gunmen’s sniper was always targeting the civilian citizens, civilians crossing to buy their items, there was a siege on us and the materials in the eastern areas were cheaper as the people risked their lives and enter the eastern areas to buy their stuff and then come back. There were people who wanted to come to the western areas under state control for the sake of medicine because it was much better, to go to university and others, and they were sniped.

On average, at some point in 2014 and 2015, each day we received between two and three martyrs and six or seven were injured, the opposition were always lying to the people saying that the sniper targeting these civilians going through the crossing was from the state. As forensics, our role was essential and important, we have proven with conclusive evidence that sniping is from east to west and not from the west to the east, which means that the sniper who targets civilians is from the opposition. We always photograph the martyrs and record a precise report and we are prepared to prove conclusively to any UN body that comes to investigate that the sniper was from the gunmen and not from the state side. Here is an important point in how forensics can establish the truth and refute the allegations.

We have long patience with the relatives (of the martyrs), there are many of them who come to us and we explain to them where the entry nozzle and the exit nozzle, we explain the difference between them, so that there is no doubt about it.

Journalist Jacquier was traveling in the neighborhoods of Homs and filming and he entered legitimately and had a license to go in and move around, at that time a mortar shell fell in the area where he was and some people were injured and then a second shell fell, and I think he lost life with the second shell because people ran in this direction, I do not recall the circumstances but there was more than one mortar shell, in that period there were more than one person injured in this same incident, it cannot be said that Jacquier was targeted, in theory, and I have a large number of names who were injured in that period with Jacquier.

Jacquier was transferred to one of the charitable hospitals in Wadi Al-Dhahab, the Nahda hospital, and we were taken to him for examination, and the French ambassador was present at the time, a doctor, and the governor was also present and the official authorities of the importance of the subject. We moved to examine a body in a hospital that was not equipped (for forensics), and simple tools were used to examine the body because there was a risk of going to the military hospital, which became the headquarters of forensic medicine.

It was noted that there are 3 entry craters of fragments on the body of Jacquier, by studying the entry nozzles with their location (in the body) it can be read that each fragment of them had a different axis, when there are 3 fragments of different axes, 3 traces of fire from different axes, it often gives the impression in principle that it is caused by an explosion and not a sniper.

The second thing is that their radial shape seemed irregular, and I told the French ambassador at the time, a doctor, that Syrian law requires us to exhume the body and remove the existing fragments, but I will not do that because we feel that everyone will not believe us and accuse us of tampering with the body, and I added that the extraction of fragments is different from extraction of bullets, because the fragment does not play any role in determining the type of weapon while the gunshot plays a role in identifying the type of weapon so since the lack of this importance I told him that I will leave the body with its evidence because I know that it will be re-examined in France.

We know that it was reexamined, reports came out and calls for prosecution, and then all gone.

Q: The French state didn’t file a case?

A: The French state did not claim because I think someone read things correctly and we are well documented, and in addition, international investigators have to investigate on the ground at the crime scene, there were martyrs with Jacquier in the same incident, and there were large numbers of injuries, all of them can’t be sniped, but as a result of a mortar shell, even the crater of the mortar shell was on the ground and photographed and documented.

Q: Did the French ambassador examine it?

A: It was examined by the CID who photographed it and documented it.

Q: The French ambassador was still in Syria?

A: We don’t have to, as a Syrian judiciary with independent sovereignty, to bring the (French) ambassador to defend ourselves, I’m doing our proper documentation and we brought a French translator who was communicating with us through him.

Q: Could he have obtained approvals and worked through legal frameworks; the Syrian state may have given him approvals?

A: The French ambassador was informed and since he was a doctor, I explained everything to him in detail, even I told him that there was a friend of ours, Henry Kudan, a doctor friend of ours in Syria who we know through conferences and we have confidence in him to examine to Jacquier, and as I told you some noise appeared and then disappeared and we no longer hear about it.

I don’t like to remember the massacres, but I met the people and they were around us. The stench of the bodies of the martyrs we uncovered it was strong, but the cases I remember were the children, the deep injuries in children, I remember the reaction of the relatives standing next to us and around us, and we were interested in identifying the bodies through clothing or personal identity, and these humanitarian cases that catch my eye with this massacre that when I was starting to strip the bodies I was looking for someone who had some paper money and hid them, for example, under the armpit, as well as personal identity the elderly on the run are thinking to take light-loaded thing that can help them. I’ve seen more human cases than the injuries I’ve seen, God bless them all, but the horror they’ve experienced before such cases of violence on the dead and torture affects me a lot, affects any forensic doctor and affects any human being.

What was the psychological state of the child who was tortured before death, I am examining a dead body but I always put myself (in that place): during the period of torture the child went through, was death a mercy for him?

Q: Was the forensic medicine with its equipment and medical staff prepared to deal with such cases? In the end there are scientific things and there are things that need possibilities, we are today when you talk about such a volume of work in a country that has lived in peace for so long, how did the medical staff cope?

Answer: In all honesty, forensics was not ready for such a war and such consequences, and there is a very important problem that most of the forensic facilities were destroyed, for example in Aleppo there was a very large and civilized building that was occupied and destroyed by the militants in a barbaric manner, the forensics was initially not ready but adapted quickly and was able to readjust with the conditions of war. There are some scientific things for example we were sending them to Damascus, we took samples and sent them to Damascus, we have nothing to analyze with, for example, we were doing the autopsy, I sometimes dissected bodies with a scalpel, there was no other option, the headquarters was destroyed and we have to continue working, we need to extract the gunshot and prove many facts, so in Aleppo I sometimes carried out the autopsy with a scalpel, the second weapon is the camera that we needed to document the cases, the things that needed sophisticated equipment we sent it to Damascus, such as with chemicals and other wise.

Q: Did scientific knowledge exist?

A: Scientific knowledge was there and excellent.

Question: The subject of wars is a different subject, at least from our follow-up, even if it is simple, that there are some countries that have suffered from wars and had a great need for forensic medicine to identify the bodies and even to identify the causes of murder, which entered the field of international courts and war crimes, this subject needs committees, doctors and studies (specialized), how did this specialized knowledge of this type of circumstance work?

A: Hopefully the war will be over, as possible this year or next year at the latest, and thank God things are almost settled, but there are repercussions and consequences of war that are the huge number of missing and disappeared. A qualitative and generous legislative decree was issued in 2014 to establish the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, and real life began in the centres that function as a body and entity in 2017 when forensic doctors were attached to the authority. We had developed a plan as a general forensic body to keep up with the war and to precede it. We sent doctors to Somalia, Pakistan and Cyprus, these countries have experienced wars and we have shared experiences with them, the method of detecting mass graves trained by our doctors, we have trained our doctors tremendously. Currently as a forensic medicine we are adding anthropology, and this is very great science, we know that the subject of DNA is a costly subject and takes time with the presence of this massive number of victims so we are developing sciences and knowledge that we can keep up with the war and precede it, as I told you, including anthropology and forensic dentistry which through it we can discover the identity of the victim through its teeth and through the study of bones, we can take almost complete information about the victim, before we reach the DNA stage, if we have to do a DNA test for sure the state is bound and committed to do so, but this is the last option because it is expensive and takes time.

Q: It also needs the cooperation of the relatives?

A: Of course, because we are taking a sample from the victim and a sample for comparison (from relatives), I will not say that we will do our best, we have gone beyond this, but we will certainly do more than our best.

Moderate Armed Oppositionist: A gift to all the martyrs of the Ahrar al-Sham Brigades in Idlib countryside, In the name of God, Most Merciful and Most Gracious; a number of Grad rockets are fired at the city of Slanfah by the Ansar al-Sham Brigades in conjunction with the (Ottoman Sultan) Murad I and Murad IV Brigades.

I met with a delegation from Human Rights, and the result of the report was a documentation of the massacres of the villages of Slanfah completely and at the beginning, and even I had spontaneously at the level of data, we were at the beginning of our work counting the numbers, all of which presented and the title of the report was (massacres of Slanfah – their blood is still here). I think this is the only organization that has visited for the massacres of Slanfah.

Q: The Human Rights Watch report chose this title?

A: It has been translated into more than one language such as English and French and the report has been circulated. I don’t have a copy of it now, but the report was very clear and there was an acknowledgement massacres committed.

In every forensic medical center we have documentation of all the deaths, natural and abnormal, whether caused by explosions or murders, all documented by date and all documented in pictures, with abnormal deaths we always accompany the CID and we do the photography and have numbers and names, there are investigation records to detect it is reliable. When I move to the crime scene, I am not alone, I move with a judicial disclosure panel composed of a judge, a forensic pathologist and a forensic clerk, and there are all lecturers in the bench, we have nothing undocumented.

Forensic medicine depends mainly on the human staff and the material possibilities, such as any branch of medicine, the material possibilities include various equipment and different devices. At the beginning of the war the situation was acceptable to good, when the war began the material and human personnel capabilities were drained, I told you that we were at the beginning of the war about 150 forensic doctors and now we are only 56 doctors, the facilities are mostly destroyed, there are doctors who emigrated and others killed and others kidnapped, yet the 56 doctors examined all these cases thoroughly and there was not a single case that came to us without examination and had an exact forensic medical report was written.

At first the forensic doctors suffered because there were many qualitative cases that we have not seen like it before, types of weapons we do not know what they are, at first, and then the forensic doctors practice and have sufficient experience and knowledge of how to deal with all cases, for example as one person I examined 13,800 bodies, examined more than 60,000 or 70,000 injury, and the colleagues certainly did the same. I told you the work of the coroner generally exposes him to health, psychological and physical problems and added to them security problems in the war. and added to them security problems in the war. The coroner always suffers but is always required to continue working, I say that 56 forensic doctors are very few but we have done our duty and always try to take a step forward, and we have been fully equipped for when Idlib and Raqqa are liberated to deal with the remains that exist. We have prepared the necessary teams and equipment.

The whole of Syria is suffering from the sanctions on (lab) material, imagine there are sanctions on importing DNA lab testing kits, what humanity is the West is preaching? These DNA testing kits are only used to identify corpses, what does it have to do with politics?

They’re imposing on a blockade on us even in this matter.

Q: If this report is presented anywhere in the world medically and scientifically, for example, the method of examination, the method of documentation and scientific explanation, does the report meet the standards wherever it is presented in the world will it be recognized?

A: Of course, anything documented in detail such as injury, photographs, dates and identity of the person meets international standards.

Q: Was forensics able during these years because it was not prepared at the beginning of the war for so much work that it faced, the number of victims or the types of the killing, did it have enough experience today? Was there a follow-up such as training abroad or conferences to keep up with or benefit from the experiences of countries that unfortunately had wars?

A: We have periodic courses, more than one course a year in cooperation with the International Red Cross under the supervision of the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, and we have the problem that the number of forensic doctors in Syria is very small not exceeding 55 doctors, in all of Latakia province we have 5 doctors, 3 of them in Latakia area and 2 in Jableh, we cover the areas of Qardaha and Haffeh, the number is very little.

My ambition is to make a file for all the missing under the supervision of the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, to have data on nation level, not only to depend on cross-examining data, it’s a costly project, it will take time but let’s start it.

Q: In mass graves, what prevents the gunmen from burying soldiers with civilians, how will they be separated here?

A: What is preventing them from burying their dead with our martyrs? Don’t make a difference with them. We’re very suffering from these things. Also, there are people who think that DNA is a magical solution, once you examine the DNA the name appears, no, the subject is too meticulous. I have examined many mass graves, the bodies and the remains piled up on top of each other, when they kill them, they stack them on top of each other, and the remains are mixed.

We’re strengthening Anthropology and we take a step forward so that we can distinguish and sort out the remains of each victim from the other. This topic is very important, thorny and sensitive.

Q: And this is also about the method of exhuming?

A: Of course, if the exhumation is not proper, we will never reach results.

I feel that there are many files in Syria the time has come to talk about so that we can reconcile with ourselves and to know that we were victims of manipulation by others, including files such as Hamza al-Khatib file, you know, you know, or Zainab al-Husni or the file of the electrician in the area of al-Hirak, there are files that played a fundamental and sensitive role in which positions have been built on them, now the truth about them came to light.

I believe that forensics can be a witness and reader of the past through its experience, because I am not a political analyst, as I told you, but I am a reader of what has occured, so when I study the body and examine it I can analyze what happened at the moments of death.

Q: Does this affect our present and our future?

A: Exactly.

If the focus since the beginning of the war was on forensic medicine, its explanation of the facts, its detailing of what is happening and its refutation of tendentious narratives, could have solved many things, and many martyrs and many victims we did not need to examine.

We would have been able to lessen a large number of victims and martyrs only if we had been listened to, if there were at that time those who would listen. Unfortunately, I repeat, at the beginning of the war, there was a group that refused to listen, which did not want to be convinced. I will tell you a story when we were in Aleppo I had a colleague, a doctor who emigrated later, I was explaining to him that there are bodies of dead strangers, including Arabs and foreigners, and he told me that this thing is impossible, after a while and we were together I got a call about a body of a dead Turk at the police headquarters, a lawyer who was defending al-Qaeda and was famous, killed, and I was asked to examine him and take DNA samples, so I asked this doctor to accompany me so that I could prove to him accurately and everything will be in front of him, he told me that even if I saw, I would not believe it. At that time there were people who refused to believe.

End of the English translation transcript.

SYRIA AND TURKEY RAMP UP PREPARATIONS FOR NEW MILITARY CONFRONTATION

SOUTH FRONT

The Syrian Army and Iranian-backed militias deployed a new batch of reinforcements to the frontline in southern Idlib and western Aleppo. According to local sources, fresh troops reinforced by armoured vehicles and battle tanks were placed near Saraqib, Kafranbel, and Urma as-Sughra. These areas were the hottest points of the conflict between Syrian troops and Turkish-led forces during the previous round of escalations in Greater Idlib. Turkey and its proxies are also preparing for a new round of confrontations.

During the past week, at least four Turkish military convoys, with battle tanks and even MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air-defense systems, entered Idlib, allegedly to secure the ceasefire regime and contain the terrorist threat. How Turkish troops are planning to use air defense systems against al-Qaeda terrorists that do not have aircraft remains a mystery.

At the same time, sources close to Idlib militants announced that Ankara is forming five new units consisting of its own troops, members of the National Front for Liberation and the Syrian National Army. Both these militant groups are funded and trained by Turkey. The newly formed units will be led by Turkish officers and allegedly include 9,000 Syrian militants and a similar number of Turkish troops. Pro-Turkish sources speculate that this force will be tasked with securing the M4 highway in southern Idlib and clearing the area of radical groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. After this, a security zone will be established and joint Turkish-Russian patrols will be launched in the area as it was agreed to by Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The problem with this theory is that the Turkish-backed groups, which should supposedly be involved in this operation are allied with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked organizations. So, they will have little motivation to confront them shifting the burden of fighting to Turkish troops.

According to pro-government sources, the Turkish motivation is different. They note that Ankara is very unsatisfied with the performance of their proxies during the recent battle against the Syrian Army. So, it opted to make a new attempt to create elite units that should deliver a devastating blow to the brutal Assad regime that is cowardly resisting the occupation of Syrian territory by Turkey.

Turkish-backed forces also increased their activity in Syria’s northeast. On March 29, the 20th Division of the so-called Syrian National Army attacked positions of Kurdish militias near the village of Sayda. Pro-Turkish sources claimed that a truck equipped with a 23mm machine gun belonging to Kurdish forces was destroyed and that many fighters were killed. Turkish proxies still cherish radiant hopes to capture the nearby town of Ayn Issa thus seizing control of the crossroad of the M4 highway and the Tall Abyad-Raqqah road.

The US-led coalition continues evacuation of smaller bases and regrouping of its forces in Iraq. After the withdrawal of coalition troops from al-Qaim and al-Qayyarah, they left from the Kirkuk K1 base. Means and forces from these facilities will be redeployed to other US bases in the country, mainly Camp Taji. There are no signs of any kind of US troop withdrawal from the country despite the demands from the Baghdad government. To the contrary, the Pentagon recently announced that it was working to deploy Patriot air defense systems to protect US troops in Iraq from missile attacks.

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Mighty “Moderate Rebels” Pressure Turkish Army In Idlib. US-led Coalition Is Crumbling

South Front

The notorious “moderate rebels” have blown up a bridge on the M4 highway in southern Idlib as part of their effort to sabotage the creation of a security zone in the area. The Kafr bridge is located near the town of Jisr al-Shughr, near positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkistan Islamic Party, both of which are linked to al-Qaeda. Surprisingly, pro-opposition sources publicly admit that the bridge was destroyed to hinder Russian-Turkish plans to conduct joint patrols along the M4. After previous acts of sabotage against the deal, supporters of the Idlib “moderates” opted to blame “Russian barbarians”, “sectarian Iranian militias” or the “puppet Assad regime”. But such claims did not hold water because the rough actions of the Idlib militants were too obvious.

Over the past two weeks, Turkish troops have conducted at least 8 patrols on their own along the M4 highway and participated in 2 joint patrols with Russian Military Police west of Saraqib. However, the presence of the Turkish Army in the area of the supposed security zone did not stop supporters of Idlib armed groups from building barriers with large mounds of earth, blowing up bridges, destroying improvised Turkish road checkpoints and even staging IED attacks on Turkish military columns. The constant threat of terrorist attacks will clearly remain a sad reality of modern Idlib for as long as al-Qaeda-linked groups exist there.

On March 25, a Turkish soldier, Umit Udul, shot himself dead near the town of Ras al-Ayn in northeastern Syria. Kurdish sources claim that he did it as an act of protest against the actions of the Turkish Army in Syria. However, these claims remain unconfirmed. The security situation in the Turkish-controlled part of Syria’s northeast has been deteriorating for months. So, the incident may have been a result of local tensions.

Two Turkish soldiers were killed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, in the area of the Turkish anti-PKK operation “Claw”. The Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed the casualties saying that 8 PKK members were “neutralized” in response to the attack.

Rocket strikes continue hitting US-linked facilities across Iraq. Early on March 26, several rockets were launched at the area of the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. A day earlier, on March 25, unidentified forces shelled Camp Taji, the biggest military base hosting US troops in the country. Regular rocket attacks already forced the US military to evacuate several smaller bases, including the key fortified facility near the Syrian border – al-Qaim. This was done under the pretext of “successes” against ISIS and COVID-19-related issues.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition itself is collapsing. On March 25, Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, announced that French troops had withdrawn from Iraqi territory.

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